One Roof Community housing discusses the future of affordable housing projects

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On Friday, a fire displaced ten people from an East 4th street apartment building in Duluth. The owners of the property saying those residents were already set to leave by the end of November to prepare for major renovations.

One Roof Community Housing purchased the building at 621 E 4th street with the broader goal of creating updated affordable housing for tenants in the area.

The executive director saying that had the pandemic not happened, the building would have been fully vacated by now and under the process of construction.

The eviction moratorium put a pause on emptying the premisis and the organization has been working with the current tenants to provide financial incentives as well as housing alternatives for those still living there to leave by the end of the month.

However, Friday’s electrical fire forced those tenants to leave about two weeks prematurely.

"This has been a long process for us," said One Roof executive director, Jeff Corey. "We’ve taken considerable risk in buying the properties and have gotten help from several capitol funders to be able to step in and take that risk. Community development is often not a pretty or fast or easy thing to happen. That’s why nonprofit organizations like One Roof exist – to tackle properties like these."

The sale of the building is set to be finalized within the next 60 days where construction will happen over the span of a year.

This particular space will host around 16 units of affordable housing.

One Roof is planning another project in the west of the same block called "Brewery Creek." It is set to be a brand new building and bring in 52 new units.

About 26 of those unit, two floors of the building, will be dedicated to folks that are working with Lifehouse in Duluth.

These projects, along with the $19 million in American Rescue Plan funding are promising steps towards improving housing, but the organization says the work has only just begun.

"It’s a great step to take but we’re going to need to do multiple things however to really move the needle on affordable housing and particularly on homelessness," said Corey.