Ikedra West, 37, poses for a portrait inside of her hotel room at Marriot Towne Place Suits in downtown Minneapolis. West was displaced from her apartment in the Bell Lofts after the building flooded on December 28, 2022. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

Tenants who were displaced from the Historic Bell Lofts due to major flooding could be forced out of their temporary hotel accommodations by noon Friday. 

Two organizations, It Takes a Village and Documenting MN, are trying to raise more money to cover additional hotel stays, food, and clothing for tenants. The groups said tenants were initially given notice that they would have to leave their hotels by noon Thursday. Donations collected by the groups kept the families housed for one more night, but advocates for the tenants say they don’t currently have enough funds to continue covering hotel stays.

A pipe burst in the Bell Lofts in north Minneapolis on December 28, flooding the building and displacing about 50 people. Most of the tenants, including families with young children, have spent the last three weeks at hotels. Some tenants told Sahan Journal they lost all of their belongings in the flood. The city of Minneapolis condemned the building at ​​816 21st Avenue N. earlier this month.

The building’s landlord, Chris Webley, paid for the first week of hotel stays, according to tenants. However, tenants said that after that first week, they were notified that they had to leave their hotels because there was no funding. The Minneapolis Foundation then stepped in to cover two weeks of hotel stays. The foundation awarded Webley a $720,000 grant in late 2022 to renovate the Bell Lofts’ 25 apartments, but the money has not been distributed and is now on hold.  

Condemned sign on front door of Bell Loft Apartments in North Minneapolis. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

Although tenants said they were grateful for the hotel stays, they said Webley didn’t do enough by funding a week’s stay. Tenants said that as the end of each week neared, they felt extra anxiety and pressure to find long-term housing solutions while they continued to grapple with grief and loss from the flooding. 

Dyonyca Conley-Rush, founder of It Takes a Village, said she sat with tenants this past weekend to assess their needs and to help them find housing. 

“I don’t see why they just don’t let them stay… just pay for the end of the month. Like that way, they’re not scrambling trying to figure out this,” she said. 

Some tenants have children who couldn’t attend school because the families don’t have transportation and their hotels are outside of bus routes. Many of the tenants are low-income. Some tenants face mental and physical health challenges. Others had to take time off from work to salvage their personal belongings and tour apartments. 

Other funders are being asked to help cover hotel stays, but no final decisions have been made, according to Documenting MN. 

How you can help tenants:

Donations of clothing and shoes to tenants of Bell Loft apartments in La Quinta community room in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal
  • Donations can be dropped off between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Sonder Point Apartments, 5803 Xerxes Avenue N., Minneapolis, Minnesota. Items needed include clothing for babies, children, and adults. Toys, food, diapers, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, menstrual products, shoes, cold medicine, and other goods are also accepted. 
  • Call Dyonyca Conley-Rush, founder of It Takes A Village, at 414-519-1090 to ask questions or offer other help.
  • To help pay for hot meals for tenants, donate to @ittakesavillagemn2020 on Venmo, or to @$ittakesavillagemn on Cash App. 

Katelyn Vue is the housing reporter for Sahan Journal. She graduated in May 2022 from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Prior to joining Sahan Journal, she was a metro reporting intern at the Star...