Single mom of three loses rent-stabilized apartment in East Village explosion

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EAST VILLAGE (PIX11) -- Their stories are heartbreaking.

Dozens and dozens of adults and children who lost everything but their lives, including prized rent stabilized apartments ... in the gas explosion and fire on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street are now trying to rebuild their lives with the help of friends and neighbors who have rallied online to raise money for them on GoFundMe and youcaring websites.

"My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones," Dr. Diane McLean, now homeless told PIX 11. "We lost everything but our lives."

Perhaps the most touching is the story of Dr. Diane Mclean, a single mother of three all under the age of eight.

Speaking to PIX 11 on FaceTime from her job as a child psychiatrist at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, Dr. McLean said she had lived in her 1,100 square-foot apartment at 45 East 7th Street since 1979 and most recently had been paying $1,500 a month for her rent stabilized four bedroom apartment.

"I could take a job at Lincoln because I didn't have to spend so much money on rent," Dr. McLean said.

Her GoFundMe page has already raised more than $62,000 with a goal of $200,000.

Real estate lawyer Ed Fong says Dr. McLean and her three children will probably never be able to find a deal like she had with her rent stabilized apartment.

"It is extremely unlikely," Fong told PIX 11. "Very few rent stabilized apartments become available below 96th street. And when they do, the landlords can renovate them" and they then are not rent stabilized anymore.