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One month after Surfside collapse, survivors face new challenge: Where to live?

Anna Jean Kaiser, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI — A month after Champlain Towers South in Surfside collapsed on June 24, survivors who have been living in hotels and temporary apartments are now facing a pressing question: Where will they live after their homes were leveled?

Oren Cytrynbaum, a self-employed real estate agent, was a resident of Champlain Towers South. He’d left his apartment at around 10 p.m. on June 23 and was not in the building when it collapsed shortly after 1 a.m. In the last month, he’s suffered with anxiety and survivor’s guilt.

On Monday, Miami-Dade police identified the 98th victim who died in the collapse, Estelle Hedaya.

‘Everybody in Miami knows somebody from that building’

Before real estate, Cytrynbaum worked as an attorney and is still licensed and has spent much of his time in the past month helping his neighbors navigate courts and legal issues. He’s also become deeply involved with aid organizations that are helping survivors — all of which has meant that he has no income.

While residents expect compensation from insurance and lawsuits, those can take months or years to settle. Surfside survivors, however, need housing now.

 

What we’ll remember: What we lost in the Surfside catastrophe and how it changed us

Cytrynbaum has been aided by the Global Empowerment Mission, or GEM, a disaster relief nonprofit based in Doral. On Wednesday, they launched their third and final phase for helping Surfside victims: Working to find them permanent homes.

Partnering with Douglas Elliman

They’ve partnered with real estate firm Douglas Elliman, whose agents will work pro bono to help around 35 families find a new home. With funds from donations to GEM’s Champlain Tower Residents Fund, survivors from the collapse will be provided with first and last month’s rent as well as their security deposit. They hope to raise enough money to also help with continued rent assistance.

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