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DULUTH - A notice of condemnation posted on Lincoln Park's Seaway Hotel brought community housing leaders together Friday.
Representatives from the Housing Redevelopment Authority, the Salvation Army, City Center Housing, the United Way, St. Louis County and CHUM formed what the HRA Executive Director called a "crisis response team" that would make plans for the building's residents.
"We're all trying to help and that's really the bottom line," HRA Executive Director Rick Ball said. "Everybody is trying to assist the tenants with the situation that could be very difficult for them."
The group discussed ideas about where the 60 to 80 residents, many of which are low-income or disabled, could turn.
"If we reach the point that it's absolutely certain that the Seaway is going to close, then we have to have everything in place for them at that point," CHUM Executive Director Jim Soderberg said.
Soderberg said that the Seaway's owner is still trying to keep the building open, but the group is still planning for its closure by taking a look at each individual resident.
"We're trying to figure out how best to refer people to the resources that might be most suited for their needs," Ball said.
Whether they are families, singles, or a person with disabilities, the group is trying to find out which place they can turn to instead of being added to an already–large homeless population.
"Hopefully this is a wakeup call," Soderberg said.
CHUM, Duluth's main homeless shelter, is already stretching resources thin.
The shelter set a record last quarter after seeing 345 different people in need of a place to stay.
"Adding on top of that another 80 is very serious," Soderberg said.
Now, Soderberg said it is time to find funding for a more permanent place people can go, because what benefits a few could benefit all.
"It's an investment that the community, as a nation, that we need to make," Soderberg said.
The group is set to meet again next week.
The building's owner has applied for some loans through the HRA to make the required improvements to the building.
It is the first time he applied for such a loan in more than two years, despite receiving repair warnings for at least 18 months.
However, cost estimates have not yet been completed, which are required for officials to make a decision on the loan application.
The building's owner has not returned requests for comment.