Shelter serving Drake Hotel fire victims to close in late January

The First Covenant Church
The Red Cross said it will shut down its disaster services at First Covenant Church on Jan. 22.
Tim Nelson | MPR News 2013

A temporary shelter serving victims of the Drake Hotel fire will close in less than two weeks.

The Red Cross said it will shut down its disaster services at First Covenant Church on Jan. 22.

During a media briefing Thursday, Hennepin County officials said they are working as fast as possible to find more stable housing for the nearly 60 residents who are still sheltered at the Minneapolis church.

"This process is never easy or fast — we're doing the best we can with the resources we have,” said Jodi Wentland, an assistant Hennepin County administrator. “It's even harder when we are working in crisis mode, with fewer resources than we had before the fire."

Wentland and representatives from the Red Cross said they are committed to moving residents into more stable housing over the next two weeks.

The Minneapolis Foundation said it has transferred two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in donations for fire victims to the nonprofit Pillsbury United Communities, which will work to distribute the funds to all of the hotel’s residents in the coming weeks.

"We had 272 individuals that are impacted by this,” said Adair Mosley, president and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities. “So, we will have to be extremely creative in how we deploy these resources so they can have the most impact for individuals and families."

Many fire victims are anxious to get access to those financial resources so they can move on with their lives.

Drake Hotel residents talk.
Dozens of former Drake Hotel residents are currently staying at First Covenant Church downtown.
Brandt Williams | MPR News

Former Drake Hotel resident Carlos Wright said he and other residents are tired of waiting in limbo.

"We just want to feel like we're human. We're all in a tough situation,” he said. “I have a girlfriend that just had a miscarriage so that was devastating, because of the stress in the situation."

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