Fire Leaves Family Homeless

Single mother and laundromat worker Marilyn Dalson wakes up every morning and sees the home she used to live in.

Dalson lost her apartment unit in a fire weeks ago and has been staying with her neighbor across the street ever since.

To make matters worse, her son Ryan Hinds, a recent graduate of McKinley South End Academy, is separated from her and is forced to stay with friends until they both find a new place to call home.

“It feels weird,” Hinds said. “I don’t have my own bed and I can’t take a shower when I want to.”

The third floor unit that the mother and son used to live in on Stockton Street in Dorchester caught fire on a Thursday afternoon, Dalson said, while she was working at Laundry King a few feet down the road.

Her son was sleeping in the apartment at the time and was woken up by a loud banging from a stranger after the fire started. Dalson was in disbelief when she was told about the fire while she was working.

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“Right then and there I heard fire trucks wailing and whining and saw them coming up the street and all the smoke, but I couldn’t leave because I had no one to relieve me,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do next because, you see, this is all new to us. This is all new to me.”

Someone from the American Red Cross of Massachusetts provided Dalson with funds so she and her family could stay at the Ramada on Morrissey Boulevard for three nights. By Sunday, Dalson had no place to go and was given additional funds from the Red Cross, which she and her son used to buy clothes.

She is now in search of an apartment that she can afford on her $10-an-hour budget but is unable to submit her application to the Boston Housing Authority.

“I have the fire report, but the only thing I’m waiting for is the proof of housing form,” Dalson said. “I can make no mistake because if I do they will reject me.”

Dalson’s landlord, a resident of New York, is hard to reach and is the only person who can provide her with a document stating that she used to live at the Stockton Street address.

“When I get the paper work up and rolling definitely I will know where I stand … right now I am still in the waiting. It’s not easy, but I’m just trying to make the best out of what can be done at the time,” she said.

Living and working so close to her former home, which is now boarded up and charred by the fire, is not easy for Dalson, but she finds a way to cope.

Occasionally she will sit on the doorsteps of her former apartment building and think back on her life there and get lost in the memory of the place she called home for 15 years.

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Jordan Frias

Jordan Frias is an editorial assistant at Boston Herald and a contributor of Spare Change News. He is vice president of the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a graduate of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

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