November 3, 2004
The building containing the Dorchester headquarters of Action for Boston Community Development, the city's official antipoverty program, was destroyed by fire last week.
The building at 110 Claybourne Street near Codman Square, which housed offices for the Dorchester APAC and the Dorchester NEC, was struck by the blaze at about 9:30 p.m. on October 28, at a time when most of the city was watching the Red Sox triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series. Sixteen employees were displaced by the fire. ABCD Executive Vice President John Drew said officials suspect the cause was a faulty electrical appliance in the main conference room. Arson is not suspected, he said.
"We received the call during the game, and firefighters and staff responded to the scene," Drew said. "Everyone missed the last inning of the World Series."
The building was a former American Legion Post, purchased by ABCD in the 1970s to house a then-expanding series of antipoverty programs offered from rented offices nearby at 450 Washington Street. "It was fortuitous for us that we had it, because when program cuts came about in the early 1980s under President [Ronald] Reagan, all programs were moved to Claybourne Street. The building served quite a bit of activity, and it is a complete loss," Drew said.
The building housed a variety of programs, including adult and youth employment services, GED program, after school and summer job programs, information & referral, fuel assistance, Head Start and volunteer tax assistance, according to ABCD spokeswoman Megan Britt.
"The Dorchester NSC is ABCD's busiest neighborhood site, serving Boston's most populous neighborhood.," Britt said. "Almost 2,000 individuals were served over the past year. All ages, infants to elders, all low-income, 40 percent working families."
The now-homeless programs have been relocated to temporary facilities, she said. Fuel Assistance, the Multi-Cultural Independent Living Center of Boston,and After School Activities have been moved to 22 Beechwood Avenue in Dorchester. The Head Start program and GED classes previously held at 110 Claybourne Street have been relocated to 198 Geneva Avenue in Dorchester. Information for all services can be found at 617-288-2700.
Inquiries for this season's fuel assistance program, which began on Monday, may be made by calling 617-357-6012, Britt said.
While all the programs will continue to operate from several different temporary locations, Drew said ABCD has begun the search for a new permanent home in the neighborhood.
"We are committed to the Dorchester Community," Drew said.
"We're a year out from replacing it, and we have to raise the money for a replacement. The insurance coverage was minimal- to do what we need, we're talking a million dollars or more." He said he expects the local APAC board will soon begin a grassroots campaign to raise funds to finance either a new building on the site or the permanent relocation of the programs to one facility elsewhere in Dorchester.