EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 27, 2013

3 months after fire, family still seeks home

By Douglas Moser

---- — METHUEN — Alice Rivela stoically troops on.

More than three months after a fire destroyed the apartment she and her five children lived in for a decade, she is still having trouble finding a new home.

Asked about her search in an interview recently, Rivela remained positive, declining to complain about the potential apartments that fell through.

Instead, she said she was fortunate to have friends and family to help her and her kids until they find a new place.

“We’re lucky enough to have a really good friend to put us up until we find a place,” she said. “I’m very blessed and very lucky.”

She and her children are sometimes separated, having to stay at different places for a short time. But they’re never really apart, Rivela said.

“We just stick together, help each other out and do what needs to be done,” she said.

Rivela, who lived in an apartment at 13 Larchwood Road for 12 years, works full-time at Amarr Garage Doors in Billerica. Her coworkers have been supportive, she said.

Rivela’s mother, Helen Brown, is frustrated with the landlords her daughter has tried to rent from recently, and started a fund at Lowell Five Bank so friends could help Rivela replace furniture and belongings when she finally finds a place to rent.

“She’s got nothing, no furniture, nothing,” Brown said.

Things looked up last week, with an apartment in Lawrence looking like it would pan out. “Hopefully she’s got a place and they’re not jerking her around like they have been,” Brown said.

But word came that this apartment did not work out either. Brown said she wanted to use the fund to put Rivela in a hotel for the time being, so they have a little more stability.

“She needs the help now more than before,” she said.

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