Each household in the Bronx high-rise where a smoky fire killed 17 people last weekend is about to get $2,250 in immediate financial relief, Mayor Eric Adams said on Friday.
The money will be distributed directly to residents of the building’s 118 apartments in the form of prepaid debit cards starting Saturday, officials said. A fund overseen by the mayor’s office has raised more than $2 million to support the tenants so far.
“The team is working 24/7 to disseminate the rest of the funds, but we wanted to provide immediate relief,” Kate Smart, a spokeswoman for Mr. Adams, said.
Mr. Adams’s announcement came a day after a group of tenants, joined by community activists and religious leaders, held a news conference to complain that financial help had been slow to arrive and that some of them were being urged back into the building too soon.
Speaking at the news conference, Souleimane Konaté, a local imam, said the city’s aid efforts had been disorganized and roundabout and had complicated tenants’ efforts to regroup in the wake of the fire. He called for direct cash relief so that people could make their own decisions about how to meet their needs.
“Fulfill your engagement or your promise,” Mr. Konaté said. “We need you more than anything. A couple days from now, you will disappear. We will be here, not going anywhere, because there are people from our community — the Muslims, the Latinos, African-Americans — we’re in this together.”
The financial help announced by Mr. Adams on Friday includes $1,000 per household from Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, $1,050 apiece from Bank of America and $200 from the Met Council on Jewish Poverty. The mayor’s fund will also cover the cost of domestic burials for those who died in the fire as well as repatriation for those to be buried overseas.
Scores of unofficial relief efforts have emerged in the days since the fire, whose victims included eight children.
Neighborhood gardens and political parties, breweries and coffee shops, celebrities and activists have all collected money as well as clothes, diapers, formula and other items that the building’s tenants may need. Artists have raffled off their work; public defenders have provided free legal services. More than one Real Housewife of New York has pitched in. Over $1.5 million was raised via GoFundMe alone.
The rappers Fat Joe and Peter Gunz, Bronx natives, have tapped their star power to aid the relief efforts. …….