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Meeting addresses tenants soon to be evicted

The Rochester Salvation Army on Thursday hosted a meeting of Center Street Hotel tenants and representatives of 15 local agencies to brainstorm on how to find housing for the tenants who must be out of the hotel by Oct. 31.

About 12 residents of the Center Street Hotel attended the meeting at the Salvation Army's downtown Community Center, along with representatives from Olmsted County Community Services, Family Service Rochester, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, the United Way of Olmsted County and other agencies, according to a Salvation Army press release.

Owners of the Center Street Hotel, which for years has served as month-by-month housing for primarily very low-income Rochester residents, recently announced that they will be renovating the building and upgrading it. They gave tenants notice that they must be out by the end of October.

The owners originally estimated about 30 people were tenants at the time. A resident there said most have since moved out rather than rent for just October, leaving only about four families still living there.

In addition to discussing how to find suitable housing for the tenants when Rochester in the midst of a low- and affordable housing crisis — as city leaders call it — questions were raised about the legality of the evictions and the availability of governmental funding for the tenants affected, according to the press release.


Sara Carfora, who lives in the building with her husband and two small children, said the event gave them their first real housing prospect since the owners' announcement. Her family moved to Rochester from Red Wing this summer for better job opportunities. She recently secured a higher paying job. Her husband, who has a disability, stays at home and watches their children.

She said they had contacted countless rental organizations, low-income assistance organizations and churches without finding a single available rental unit in their limited price range.

"I had to swap (today) for a work day on Saturday. It was worth it ... we're going on Monday," Carfora said. "But it's not a sure thing."

She was also glad to learn about local programs and organizations that would help them with moving their furniture or paying for deposits once they find an apartment.

Several other tenants found housing at the meeting, the press release says.

The other agencies involved in the meeting were: Zumbro Valley Health Center, Oak Terrace/Parkside Mobile Home park, The Francis, Olmsted County Veteran's Services, Family Promise, Three Rivers Community Action, St. Vincent De Paul, Bear Creek Church, Legal Assistance of Olmsted County and City Center Housing.

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