Dec. 28, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A robust program dedicated to helping the victims of the Dec. 13 fire in Sunnyside is steadily gaining steam, with a registration now set up to provide expanded emergency services and funds employees and business owners impacted by the five-alarm blaze.
The “Business Community Disaster Program,” set up by the Sunnyside Shines BID, builds off on the more than $150,000 raised as part of the Sunnyside Shines Fire Relief Fund—the first initiative of the program.
The BID, which spearheaded the relief fund efforts, said the disaster program was activated by the board of directors’ executive committee, which can choose to start such a program in response to events that significantly impact the business district of the neighborhood.
In this case, the program aims to provide short-term relief to those suffering a loss of income or interest within the confines of the BID due to the fire.
“The Business Community Disaster Program gives our community reassurance that in the future, we stand ready to provide an organized, well-managed response to events that impact our District,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of Sunnyside Shines.
Sunnyside Shines, as part of the new program, has set up a registration for those impacted by the fire wishing to receive aid, and has published a guide outlining which groups can qualify for assistance.
The BID has identified three types of individuals that may register to receive short-term monetary relief or who can potentially receive help in the form of inter-agency services.
Employees at either of the six destroyed businesses on the Queens Boulevard block—Better Line Hardware, Romantic Depot, New York Style Eats, Zen Yai, UPS and Sidetracks—are the primary focus of the fund, can potentially qualify for both relief funds and extra services, like grocery and cell phone vouchers.
Employees at businesses immediately adjacent to the fire, which temporarily closed due to the fire, can also qualify for a one-time benefit in the form of a $100 check payment to make up for lost wages. Employees at KMIA Salon, Alpha Donuts, The Case World and Smoke Shop are included under this category.
The third group includes business owners of the combined 10 establishments, who may be eligible for services like support and referrals from the city’s department of Small Business Services and from the BID itself.
Eligible and registered employees of the destroyed businesses will receive an initial disbursement of funds before Dec. 31, and secondary disbursements after Jan. 1.
Employees, however, must register by Dec. 30 to receive the initial funds before the end of the year, or by Dec. 15 to receive funds in 2019. Those who register after Dec. 30, however, will not be eligible for the monies distribution as planned before the end of the year.
Registered and confirmed employees from the list of four neighboring businesses will receive the one-time money award after Jan. 1, provided that they register before Jan. 15.
Sunnyside Shines says the funds from the fire relief efforts must be entirely expended by March 31, and that more than 80 individuals have already registered their interest in the fund.
The disaster program, however, will remain in place and be activated in the case of similar future events.
“If we experience a disaster again like this in the future, we have a mechanism in response,” Bean said to the Sunnyside Post. “It’s been a really organized effort so far.”
The relief fund registration follows a GoFundMe, fundraiser and job and resource fair that were set up immediately after the mid-December fire, with donations continuing to come in.
The BID said its website will soon show a donations tracker to ensure transparency.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.