Pillsbury United Communities, a local nonprofit that helped survivors of the 35W bridge collapse and the 2011 tornado in north Minneapolis, is taking a leading role in helping those displaced by the Francis Drake Hotel fire find long-term housing.
The organization is set to receive $250,000 from the Minneapolis Foundation’s fundraiser to help with those efforts, the groups announced Wednesday. Roughly 200 people lost their homes when the hotel was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day.
“We go where we’re needed,” said Adair Mosley, president and CEO of the Pillsbury United Communities.
The group said it plans to help Drake residents with damage deposits, their first month’s rent and other housing needs. If there’s enough money left over at the end, the group will give “discretionary funding” to residents to help cover other expenses, Mosley said.
It’s unclear exactly how many people will receive assistance from that pool of money. Mosley said the group is planning to meet soon with city and county officials, as well as others involved in the response, to learn how many people need help.
The group is still settling on the criteria that people will need to meet to receive assistance, but Mosley promised there would be “no high barriers.”
“We don’t want to impose additional trauma to the families that have already been impacted,” Mosley said.
More than a century old, Pillsbury United Communities performs a wide variety of community services, including efforts to reduce truancy in schools, provide job training and help filing taxes. It has also backed a food market and community newspaper in north Minneapolis and a radio station in the Phillips neighborhood.
The donations to help with rent come after some Drake residents complained that they didn’t feel they were getting the type of assistance they needed and that they weren’t getting it quickly enough. Many of them had asked for money to help with rent.
Returning to the Drake isn’t an option. The city hired a contractor to demolish the building after the fire, saying that it had been so badly damaged that it was a public safety hazard.