On March 27, 2017, April’s roommate awakened her at 6 am to report that the building across the street from our house was on fire. She rushed outside to see flames shooting out of the roof. Sadly, four people died that day and more than a hundred people lost their homes. It was soon reported in the news that just three days earlier the fire inspector had cited the owner with numerous code violations and ordered them to make repairs that were never made and could of possibly saved the four souls that perished.
Because of the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area many former tenants ended up living in tent encampments several blocks away.April began taking people food, recording their stories of what happened that fateful night, and with those who consented, taking their portraits.
A few months later she heard a news story about the fire that reported that many of the former tenants never received their relocation payment from the city. April contacted Jonah Strauss of the Oakland Warehouse Coalition, who created a fundraiser for the former tenants, and asked how she could help support. Together, they started a campaign to demand the city bring charges against the former owner and compensate the former tenants. Jonah and April are now in negotiations with the city of Oakland to release the final monies to the tenants.
On the one year anniversary of the fire April noticed a crew of construction workers taking debris out of the building and called the tenants’ attorneys who informed her that the judge ordered nothing be removed from the premises.
April’s photographs and eye-witness testimony aided in the judge’s decision to issue a new stop work order to prevent anything else being removed from the premises that could be used in the civil trial against the building owner.