Midland County Fire Victims Struggling to Find Alternate Housing

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - Times are tough for families who lost their homes to the fire in Midland County but now they're facing a new roadblock.

The Red Cross is trying to help 12 Midland families find a new place to stay, but there isn't anywhere for them to go.

They've been overwhelmed with their disaster relief efforts so far this year, but most recently, they've been hit with a number of requests for help after the Midland County fire destroyed  several homes and affected many others.

But now they're faced with a new problem. Trying find those families a place to live, while many newcomers to Midland are doing the same.

"The biggest part for us is getting that family to start the recovery process," James Parks, Red Cross Director of Disaster Relief Services, said. "You can imagine losing your home of 49 years or whatever and it's a struggle."

But starting that recovery process isn't coming so easy for families who lost everything to the Midland County fire.

"What we're finding here is a large shortage of rentals whether that be mobile homes, apartments or houses," Parks said.

Maribel Estrella, with the Midland County Housing Authority, tells NewsWest 9 that's because Midland has the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country.

"Business is just booming right now everywhere and because of the increases in jobs, you have a lot more people coming into town," she said.

Meaning fire victims and job seekers are competing to snag the next available place to stay.

Estrella said homes and rental properties are at an all time low in the Tall City.

"We don't have very many listings and the closings are pretty quick right now," Estrella said.

So quick that homes don't even stay on the market for more than two months.

Chances are even lower with apartments.

"As soon as they're coming available, they're usually already rented out to another renter," Estrella said. "We're going back to having waiting lists at apartments right now."

Since housing is limited, the Red Cross is putting families up in hotels, but even that can be hard.

"Houses and hotels, they get leased out by floors by these companies," Parks said.

Whether those families find a temporary home or an extended stay at a hotel, the Red Cross will be there to help them along the way.

"We're not going to just throw a family out on the street," Parks said. "The community is backing us 110% and we're so grateful to be able to provide that support for the families."

If you have a mobile home you'd like to donate or any kind of rental property available that you can lease, give the Red Cross a call at 432-563-2267.