Relief Center for Hurricane Victims Running Out of Funds

The future of a relief center in Hartford for hurricane victims is in limbo as their lease ends in February.

Since November 5, the relief center at 15 Vandyke Ave. has provided needs to those who’ve moved to Connecticut from hurricane-ravaged areas. But center officials say they don’t have the funds to stay open past their lease.

In the basement of the building The Capitol Region Education Council, better known as CREC, has made this “The Relief Center For Our Caribbean Friends.”

Those who have made Connecticut home after Hurricanes Maria and Irma damaged their homes can come here to get assistance – with getting food and clothing, baby needs as well as housing, health care and job search assistance.

But the lease for this building ends on February 28.

With a $20,000 rent due each month for the building, center officials say they don’t have the funds to keep it open any longer.

“We need more support – we have the building until the end of February. We would love to help stay open a little longer but we need more agencies to join us. I mean, this cannot just be one or two agencies, it just cannot,” explained Aura Alvarado, the director of communications and community relations for CREC

That’s why state and city leaders invited Governor Malloy to tour the facility, so that he can see the services being provided to people like Betsy Gomez and her family from Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Gomez moved here with her two young daughters in mid-December after Hurricane Maria destroyed her home.

Now she lives in a Hartford hotel with her two young daughters.

She doesn’t speak English. She told NBC Connecticut when she first came from Puerto Rico she didn’t even have long pants or a coat because Puerto Rico’s weather is warm.

The services the center provides allows her to get all the clothing she needs to deal with Connecticut’s winter weather – for free.

As the future of this center is unknown, the governor said they will work with CREC to try and figure something out.

“I think Hartford is going to have to have a center and so we’ll look at what that issue specifically is,” Malloy said.

So far, the center has served about 1,200 people.

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