Suffolk’s hotel help for residents forced out of apartments by suspected arson runs out Tuesday


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been a few weeks since dozens of residents were displaced in a fire at Suffolk Tower Apartments. Now, some of them say they’ll be homeless starting Tuesday morning.

Sixty-nine-year-old Herbert Boothe, who’s charged with setting the blaze on July 13, lived on the fifth floor.

Boothe’s alleged actions shocked residents who also lived on that floor. They weren’t allowed to return because of the damage.

At first, the Suffolk Tower Apartment landlord assisted with hotel rooms for the displaced residents, but stopped paying for the rooms last Friday. The city stepped in to help as well, but that help also was set to run out Monday night.

Now, they’re worried about where they will go.

“I don’t know [what I’ll do]. I guess be part of the homeless generation on the streets of Suffolk,” said resident Derrick Edgehill.

Cheryl Griffin, who’s been working with the residents, says there’s a lot of hurdles to overcome in getting them into a new home.

She’s hoping local landlords with rental properties available will reach out to help. If not, she says some will be sleeping in their cars, or worse.

“My fear with some of the elderly and handicap is they won’t survive that,” said Griffin.

The following are contact numbers for affected individuals to leave a message for a return call:

  • Suffolk Department of Social Services Intake: 757-514-7375
  • Cheryl Griffin, Sheltering Liaison: 757-304-2883

First Baptist Church Suffolk is collecting cash or $25 donations to help residents. Visit the website then indicate gift to fund: Suffolk Tower Aid.

Griffin is also working with nonprofit organizations like STOP inc. to locate rentals and housing.

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