UK acquires apartments for tenants displaced by tower fire

In this image made from video provided by Celeste Thomas @MAMAPIE, a building is on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Firefighters are battling a massive fire in an apartment high-rise in London. One side of the building appeared to be in flames. (Celeste Thomas @MAMAPIE via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The British government has acquired newly built apartments that can be used to house some of the residents displaced by the horrific fire last week at a high-rise public housing complex, officials announced Wednesday.

The 68 apartments are “all newly built social housing” located in the Kensington and Chelsea borough where the Grenfell Tower fire occurred, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said. They are part of a development that also includes luxury residences priced at more than 1.5 million pounds ($1.9 million.)

The blaze killed at least 79 people and displaced many more. The government is scrambling to find housing in the local area, which includes some of the most expensive real estate in London.

The government said every displaced family will be re-housed in the locally and “the expectation” is that the 68 apartments will be used as permanent residences for some of the burned-out Grenfell Tower’s residents. The units are part of the upscale Kensington Row development.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says 110 housing need assessments have been made since the tragedy.

Private fundraising efforts continue as well. A charity music single produced by “American Idol” and “The X Factor” judge Simon Cowell was released Wednesday to help victims of the devastating fire.

Some 50 artists performed a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic recording of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The singers included Rita Ora, Robbie Williams, Liam Payne and Jessie J.

Grime star Stormzy opens the single, rapping: “I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you/I refuse to be silenced/I refuse to neglect you/That’s for every last soul up in Grenfell/Even though I’ve never even met you.”

The single’s release marked a week since the blaze, which ripped through the apartment building in the early hours of June 14, when many of the residents were home asleep.