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Albany Park

‘We’re Really Blessed’: Albany Park Landlord Launches Fundraiser To Help Tenants Recover After Fire

"My wife and I felt like we needed to do something more to help them get back on their feet," the landlord said.

Damage from the Oct. 15 fire at 4457 N. Spaulding Ave.
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ALBANY PARK — A local landlord is asking neighbors to help raise money for three families displaced after an Albany Park fire destroyed their homes last month. 

The Oct. 15 fire at 4457 N. Spaulding Ave. began around noon that day, neighbors said. The building is a three-flat home with a coach house in the rear, where owner Ryan Landau lives.

Jenny Barrios, who lives in the top unit of the three-flat with her son and mother, said her family was home when the fire broke out.

“I work nights and was on and off sleeping and taking care of my son who was doing e-learning,” Barrios said. “He was finishing up his lunch and getting ready to get back to class when I noticed the smell of smoke.”

At first she thought her mother was burning something in the kitchen. “But then in a matter of seconds the smell got really strong,” Barrios said. 

Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman, says the fire appears to have been accidental and likely caused by construction workers who were working on the roof that day.

Workers were replacing the roof of the rental building when the fire broke out that day, Landau said. 

“We went inside and made sure all the tenants got out and killed the gas switches for things where we could,” Landau said. “The fire department showed up within minutes and did a great job. They had two hoses there for about an hour putting the fire out.”

No one was injured but the three-flat is destroyed and the three families who lived there have all been displaced. 

“The whole building is going to have to be gutted. We may even have to knock it down,” Landau said. “That’s the challenge we’re dealing with now. It’s totally uninhabitable. Hopefully we’ll be able rebuild it.” 

Landau returned the tenants’ remaining rent for October and their security deposit, and wrote them referrals as they apply for new long-term housing. 

“But then my wife and I felt like we needed to do something more to help them get back on their feet,” Landau said. 

After talking to his tenants, Landau set up three GoFundMe pages to help the families find new places to live. He and his wife chipped in the first $200 for each, and neighbors have given several hundred more to help.

Barrios’ family has been staying with friends and family members as they look for a new home. She said she appreciates the support she’s received from her neighbors and landlord after such a traumatic loss.

“We were really worried about starting from scratch and we really do appreciate this. We’re grateful because it makes us feel like there are people who care and are willing to help,” Barrios said. “We’re really blessed.” 

Below are the links to the three fundraisers to benefit the families displaced by the fire.

Barrios Family, which has raised $989 raised of its $3,590 goal as of Friday.

Londono & Patterson Family, which has raised $1,145 of its $2,400 goal as of Friday.

Hernandez Family, which has raised $1,249 of its $2,000 goal as of Friday.

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