Funds needed for Findlay apartment fire victims

The fire at Argyle Apartments lasted five and a half hours.

United Way of Hancock County has announced a new fund for individuals and families displaced by the apartment fire in downtown Findlay.

The Argyle Apartments Fire Victims Fund has been seeded with $10,000 from United Way's Emerging Community Issues fund that is available at the discretion of the CEO. The funds will be used to assist with victims' long term needs.

Donations are being accepted at the United Way office, 245 Stanford Parkway, all Fifth Third, First Federal and Huntington Bank locations. Checks should be made out to "Argyle Apartments Fire Victims Fund".

A group of representatives from local social service agencies met Thursday morning at the United Way office to address the immediate and long term needs of the victims.

"It is understood that many of the tenants were low-income and difficult to house. It became clear in the meeting that all of the organizations represented were familiar with the conditions of the building and the clientele that could afford to live there," said Keith DuVernay, United Way president and CEO.

Many of the individuals have no transportation. Therefore, Hancock Area Transportation Services will be providing transportation to the victims to travel from the Red Cross shelter at St. Andrews to the shelter at the Agency on Aging. Mental health counselors will be available at the shelter, as will other social service agencies.

"One of the biggest issues is determining how to place this group. Red Cross is taking care of their immediate needs, but long term placement will be much more difficult." said Sammie Rhoades, Hope House director. Hope House will be coordinating placement efforts.

"Ultimately, this event again raises the issue for this community that there is a need for affordable, safe housing for our most challenged citizens," said DuVernay.

Community members are asked to hold off on donation of furniture or clothing for the victims until the needs are better known. A system for immediate needs is set up for victims to be able to receive items through already established agencies.

Resource phone numbers for victims include 2-1-1, an information and referral service offered by United Way; the mental health hotline at 1-888-936-7116 and the Hope House Housing Office at 419-427-2848.

The group will meet regularly as the details and needs of the victims become clearer. If interested in more information, contact United Way at 419-423-1432 or email Tamera Rooney, communication director, at