59°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Many Alpine residents struggle to find new housing after fire

Residents displaced by the Alpine Motel Apartments fire in downtown Las Vegas three weeks ago will not be turned out on the streets with the end of temporary housing assistance provided by the city. But many say they are struggling to find long-term solutions in a region where affordable housing is in short supply.



An agreement to continue to provide shelter and work with those whose lives were upended by the deadliest residential fire in Las Vegas history, which killed six people and injured 13 others on Dec. 21, was worked out late last week by the city and Clark County.

“We’ve worked together since the beginning,” city spokesman Jace Radke said. “The city provided funding for housing through Jan. 11, and the folks are working with their case workers if they need additional assistance past that.”

County spokesman Dan Kulin said by email that the two governments will continue to provide shelter for 13 households consisting of 24 adults and kids, with the county assisting eight of the households and the city continuing to help five.

Assistance includes rent payments, bus passes and new IDs.

“As the assistance and needs for each household vary, the duration of the assistance will also vary, and so there is no deadline or general timeline for all the cases,” Kulin said.

The number of residents receiving housing assistance has been nearly cut in half over the weeks from an initial 46 individuals.

Some of those residents have found long-term shelter, either in rental units or by moving in with friends or relatives, while others declined assistance or did not apply for it, Kulin said.

Other residents may have left the area or decided to fend for themselves. American Red Cross spokeswoman Jenny Sparks said the nonprofit assisted 70 residents immediately after the fire and knew of one other resident they were unable to contact.

Those who are still receiving government assistance are currently scattered across properties around the Las Vegas Valley.

Owner aids some who fled

Others are staying at other complexes owned by Las Vegas Dragon Hotel LLC, the company that owns the Alpine.

Dominic Gentile, an attorney representing Dragon Hotel managing partner Adolfo Orozco, said his client has used vacant units at other properties he owns to help about 37 displaced residents at his expense.

“There were 39 occupied rooms at the Alpine at the day of the fire and as many as we can take were housed in other properties,” he told the Review-Journal, adding that the owner is willing to make deals with other properties to house more people to prevent residents from becoming homeless if necessary.

Those who have been unable to find a new place to live say their lack of financial resources and strict rental and income requirements forced them to live at the Alpine in the first place.

“Places, they want you to have two times the amount of rent, application fees, deposit,” said Audrey Palmer, 56, who had lived at the Alpine with her wife, Helen Clark, since 2012. “If they just gave us a little break, you know? It’s hard when you have nothing and you’ve got to start over.”

The couple have been staying at the Siegel Suites off Swenson Street and Flamingo Road while Clark recovers from a fractured shoulder suffered jumping out a window the night of the fire. Palmer said they were afraid they were going to be left homeless once the city’s housing assistance ended.

“But last night, my case worker called me and said, ‘You know we’re not going to put you out on the street, right?’ ” she said.

Nonetheless, not knowing where they will end up is grating on the couple.

“It’s hell on me right now,” Palmer said, sitting next to a table with an open Bible and a slew of prescription medications.

A lucky few of the displaced have found alternatives through the generosity of donors.

Tia Dotson, 42, who said she managed to salvage a few important documents before fleeing out the front door at the Alpine, picked up keys Friday to her new apartment, a studio at Share Village Las Vegas on Fremont Street.

After the deadly fire, Arnold Stalk, founder of Share Village, the nonprofit until recently known as Veterans Village, announced plans to add 150 affordable housing units and open the master-planned community to nonveterans.

Stalk’s organization received a $3,000 donation and matched it to help fire victims get stable and obtain housing.

‘Out of ashes comes rebirth’

Dotson, who is Palmer’s cousin, has a six-month lease on the unit, which she will share with her fiance and her 10-year-old daughter. It has heat, which she said her unit at the Alpine did not, as well a slow cooker and a microwave.

She said it is a big step up from the Starlite Motel, also owned by Dragon Hotel, where they lived for a short time after the Alpine blaze.

“If something catches fire, burns, eventually it regrows, and it’s usually nine times prettier than what it was when it started,” she said. “That’s kind of how I’m looking at it, out of ashes comes rebirth.”

Jimmy Lacy, 29, and his girlfriend, Dayshena Thomas, are staying at Siegel Suites off Twain Avenue with Thomas’ 7-year-old son, Andru. They are still actively searching for the next place to go.

Thomas said they stayed at the Alpine for six months after Lacy lost his job, just getting by on her $750 monthly Social Security disability check, which was only $50 more than their rent. They toughed it out even though the sink was stopped up and would regularly overflow with moldy water.

“We were all normal working people. We just didn’t have the money to live in a better place,” she said. “You can only afford what you can afford.

“We have very good rental history once we get in a place,” she continued. “We’re just trying to find someone that is willing to work with us.”

A find on Facebook

Some people were able to find that break.

Christina Farinella, 42, and her her fiance, Jason Casteel, last weekend moved into a guesthouse with their downstairs neighbor from the Alpine.

They found the 500-square foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom guesthouse through Facebook and moved in last weekend. The total rent is $1,100.

“We were at that point for a minute where we didn’t know where to go. Every other place is an application fee, first month’s (rent), last month’s and a deposit,” Farinella said.

“When you’re in a panic situation like what we were in, you stay cool and go with your gut.”

Others have turned to family or friends to get by in the short term.

Paul Wise, 75, said he was up in the early morning hours the Saturday of the fire, reading his Bible in his first-floor apartment at the Alpine, when he saw the black smoke billowing through his door. The longtime Alpine resident first stayed at the owner’s Economy Motel on Fremont Street before moving in with a friend and renting a room.

“That was a blessing,” he said. “I’m OK for now, but nothing lasts forever.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Elderly woman robbed in Fremont elevator - VIDEO
An elderly woman was robbed in an elevator on the 300 block of Fremont Street. Video courtesy of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Preview Las Vegas 2020
Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, hints at new branding slogan for Las Vegas, which will no longer be “What happens here, stays here.” The new slogan will be unveiled Sunday Jan. 19 during the Grammy's.
Wrong-way driver causes fatal crash near Las Vegas airport, authorities say - VIDEO
A suspected impaired motorist driving the wrong way on the Airport Connector caused a crash that killed another driver near McCarran International Airport early Friday morning, Jan. 17, 2020, according to law enforcement. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police detail officer-involved shooting
LVMP identified the officer and show body cam video of the officer who discharged his weapon at a suspect accused of shooting his mother at a credit union, Friday.
1 person killed in wrong-way crash near Las Vegas airport - VIDEO
A wrong-way driver struck another vehicle, killing that driver, on the Airport Connector near McCarran International Airport early Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Alpine fire first responders recognized
MedicWest paramedic Miranda Smith describes the the scene when first responders arrived at the Alpine Motel Apartments fire.
The car that Tupac was shot in is for sale - VIDEO
The vehicle that legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was riding in when he was shot after a boxing match in Las Vegas is up for auction. The black 1996 BMW 7 Series is listed by Celebrity Cars Las Vegas for $1.75 million. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SUV crashes into art piece at Eastern and 215 Beltway - VIDEO
Artwork of a giant head was sent rolling when an SUV slammed into the artwork installed on a median at Eastern Avenue and the 215 Beltway in the southern Las Vegas Valley on Saturday morning, Jan. 11, 2020. (B.J. Calomay)
Alpine residents struggle to find new housing after fire - VIDEO
Many residents displaced by the Alpine Motel Apartments fire in downtown Las Vegas say they are struggling to find long-term solutions in a region where affordable housing is in short supply. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Margaret Rudin's first interview after release from prison
Convicted killer Margaret Rudin maintains her innocence in her first interview after spending 20 years in a Las Vegas prison for the murder of her husband, Ron Rudin.
Locals cheer on James Holzhauer at 'Jeopardy!' watch party - VIDEO
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But James Holzhauer would have a better chance at winning “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament if Ken Jennings would stop copying his aggressive betting strategy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ceremony held for Elvis artist Trent Carlini - VIDEO
A ceremony was held for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini on Wednesday night at The Space in Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas bus attack caught on video
Video released Metro shows two men talking on a bus on Dec. 13, 2019. A few seconds into the video, the younger man stands up and punches the older man in the face. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Fire at Bella Vite Apartments in central Las Vegas - VIDEO
No one was injured in a fire at Bella Vita Apartments, near West Flamingo Road and South Decatur Boulevard, early Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas police release details of first fatal officer-involved shooting of 2020 - VIDEO
North Las Vegas Police Chief Pamela Ojeda discusses details of the departments first fatal officer-involved shooting for 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One person injured in car crash outside Dutch Bros - VIDEO
One person suffered minor injuries in a crash Monday morning outside a southern Las Vegas coffee shop that left one vehicle on its side and another propped up on the overturned car. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas resorts welcome dogs to stay
Las Vegas properties are welcoming dogs more than ever. MGM Resorts International announced a new dog-friendly program across all of its Las Vegas properties in December. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2020 Sex Tech
What sex technology to look out for this year at CES 2020 Las Vegas
Las Vegas police respond to multi-vehicle crash with serious injuries - VIDEO
Las Vegas police are responding to a multi-vehicle with serious injuries near a Henderson park on Wednesday evening. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2020 New Year's baby born at Sunrise Hospital - VIDEO
Marquis Johnson Sr. and Latasha Atkinson talk about their newborn baby, Marquis Jr., at Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Marquis Jr. was born a few seconds past midnight to be the first baby of 2020 at Sunrise. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Palos Verdes fire on New Year's Day - VIDEO
A fire broke out in an apartment building on Palos Verdes near Spring Mountain Road in central Las Vegas early Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2010. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip to celebrate the new year of 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Crowds gather at Bellagio fountains on New Year's Eve - VIDEO
Aaron Drawhorn talks live with people in front of the Bellagio fountains on New Year's Eve.
Final farewells to Alpine Motel Hero
Family members and friends say their final farewells to Don Bennett, a maintenance man and hero of the Alpine Motel Apartments fire, following a funeral service at Heritage Mortuary on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in North Las Vegas.
A decade on the Las Vegas Strip in 75 seconds
A look back at 10 years of happenings on the Las Vegas Strip.
Musk 'hopeful' for 2020 completion of underground Las Vegas project - VIDEO
Elon Musk tweeted Friday night that The Boring Company’s underground tunnel project in Las Vegas will be “hopefully fully operational” within the next year. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Woman fatally shot man during attempted burglary
A homeowner in a residential area near Warm Springs Road and Spencer Street shot a man who had broken into her home on Saturday, December 28, 2019. The man, who was in his 30s, died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
National Weather Service issues winter storm watch for Cajon Pass - VIDEO
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Cajon Pass that could impact travel on I-15 between Las Vegas and Southern California from late Sunday night through Tuesday morning. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Vegas Alliance
Volunteers through the Downtown Vegas Alliance sort donations for Alpine Motel fire victims on Saturday at the Mob Museum. (Julie Wootton-Greener/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man critically wounded in Las Vegas bus stop shooting - VIDEO
A man was in critical condition Friday afternoon after he was shot at a bus stop on Boulder Highway in southeast Las Vegas, police said. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fremont Street is getting a new LED sign - VIDEO
The Fremont Street Experience is planning to add an LED sign that pays tribute to downtown Las Vegas’ history. The 430-square-foot sign is set to be built on the east side of Main Street and Fremont Street. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Chocolates cactus garden lit for Christmas - Video
The 26th Annual Ethel M Chocolates Cactus Garden Lighting in Henderson, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The garden will be open until 10 p.m. daily through the holidays. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Therapy dogs dress up for Halloween at Poets Walk Henderson - Video
Therapy dogs dress up for a Halloween costume contest at the Poet's Walk Henderson Memory Care facility. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST