Red Lake Nation to build affordable housing in Minneapolis

Sam Strong
Sam Strong is director of economic development and planning at for the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.
MPR Photo/Tom Robertson

The Red Lake Nation has bought an old warehouse property in Minneapolis, and announced plans this week to turn it into an affordable housing complex.

According to Red Lake Economic Development Director Sam Strong, it's the tribe's first attempt to provide affordable housing to members who live outside the northern Minnesota reservation.

"It's really more than just a housing development," Strong said. "It's a fully inclusive development that allows us to serve all of our band members in Minneapolis."

The design process is still in its preliminary stages, but Strong said the tribe plans to build a clinic and social services hub for tribe members on the main floor of the former Amble's Hardware building.

Roughly 115 large apartments designed for families will occupy the next five floors. Strong declined to comment on the cost of the project.

The Red Lake Urban Embassy, which is now in a small building on Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis, Strong said, will also be moved into the new complex.

In recent years the majority of new development on the Red Lake Nation itself has been low-income housing for tribe members. There are a dozen different tribal-run developments on the reservation.

Strong says housing is a major priority for the tribe, but only about half the tribe's 12,000 enrolled members live within the reservation borders. The rest are scattered across the country, with the largest concentration of members living in Minneapolis.

While the new apartments will be available to members and non-members alike, Strong said they're primarily designed for Red Lake tribe members and their descendants.

There are at least 2,000 members living in the neighborhoods surrounding the development site, Strong said, and roughly 5,000 of their non-enrolled descendants.

"This is really an investment for the tribe," he said. "An investment in the building itself and an investment in our people."

Strong said work will likely begin in 2018.