In some retrospect the Support House staff needs to be mindful of who they pick to become a resident. Despite the pressure from the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) that often paints them in a corner forcing the organization to take an individual that has been in the shelter system for years; and has been rejected for support housing placement numerous of times. In this instance the Support House Director didn’t stand firm and gave into DHS insistence of accepting Ramirez without vetting him properly.       

Ramirez who was diagnosed with a mental illness in the schizophrenic spectrum was homeless for a long period of time. It is not known the exact period of time he was homeless, but between stays in the public shelter system and on the street it seems that he forgot what it was like living in a housing setting.

On a cold day when the House was experiencing issues with the boiler, Ramirez felt cold and instead of calling his Caseworker down stairs to ask if the heat could be turned up, or even to ask to borrow the spare heater.  He just got some clothes together,  put them in a pile on the bed and lit a fire. Ramirez was pleased that it warmed him up, but he got more then he bargain.  Eventually the fire consumed the bed and when that happened, Ramirez exited his room and did not tell anyone about the fire.

As the fire got bigger and started to engulf the room; the smoke alarm was triggered and when one of the staff went upstairs and saw the fire, she pulled the alarm. Thankfully, just like the residencies were trained they started to go outside in an orderly fashion much to the surprise of the staff. Everyone was accounted for except for Ramirez; he was nowhere to be found. While the Fire Department came and put out the fire a search was underway to find Ramirez. 

After searching his burnt out room, and the rest of the house Ramirez was still nowhere to be found; there was some apprehension that Ramirez was caught in the room; but then someone noticed that he walked back on the grounds and was just watching the events of dealing with the fire that he started unfold.

 Once he was sighted the staff old the cops that showed up with the Fire Department to detain him while EMS was called to take him back to the Psych Ward. Even though Ramirez won’t be charged with arson because of his mental health condition it was deemed that he is unsuitable to be in the Support House program and was immediately discharged from the program. It is going to be a while before he eligible to be is released from the Psych Ward.  

 The fall out for what Ramirez did was fire damage to the unit, and the Fire Fighters collateral damage. That is water damage to the library and gym. Otherwise no other damage was done.  It took the organization three months of extensive repairs. 

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