Bemidji Ridgeway Initiative Looks for Alternative Housing as School Year Approaches
With the start of school around the corner, some people and organizations in the community are working to help displaced families not only have school supplies, but a roof over their heads as well. The Rotary Ridgeway Initiative and those in the Bemidji School District are working to assist families struggling with housing following the closure of Ridgeway Court I apartment building earlier this year.
In May, the city of Bemidji deemed the aforementioned building an unsafe living environment. Although some families did manage to find alternative housing options, other families are still looking.
With classes starting soon for Minnesota schools, Ridgeway Initiative members say that having shelter can provide much more than just four walls and a roof over a child’s head.
“You can’t go to school if you don’t have a house. You can’t do homework if you don’t have a house,” says Sandy Hennum, chairperson of the Rotary Ridgeway Initiative. “You can’t be healthy. COVID really taught us that … it’s hard to quarantine at home when you don’t have a house to quarantine.”
Some families are facing challenges in finding alternative housing in the area. Bemidji Area Schools Housing Liaison Alea Stoll states that this problem does not stem from those families, but rather damage caused by non-tenants.
The Rotary Initiative is currently working to help 26 families from the Bemidji area that are currently displaced. This number also includes individuals as well as family units. The average age of children affected by housing displacement in Bemidji is under 5.