Former Robbinsdale Hotel to Help Homeless Vets
For nearly 125 years, the Robin Hotel has stood at the corner of Hubbard Avenue and 41st Avenue in Robbinsdale.
“This building has been used for a variety of purposes, but most recently as housing for those who maybe can’t afford a larger apartment, or really like the location here,” said Sara Riegle, vice president of property operations for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV).
Last year, Hennepin County purchased the building for nearly $2 million and transferred ownership to the nonprofit.
“So [Hennepin County] came to us and they said, ‘would you have interest in working with us on acquiring this building and utilizing it toward your mission of ending veteran homelessness?'” Riegle said.
Riegle says Minnesota has roughly 350 homeless veterans. The goal is for this building to help get some of those vets off the street and into a more stable situation.
“Some folks might use this as an opportunity to save up, move on, move onto home ownership,” Riegle said. “Other folks will stay with us for 20 or 30 years. It’s really an individualized approach and there’s no definitive timeline of when they have to be out.”
MACV is planning renovations that would eventually provide 16 units to veterans in need.
“We’ll be adding new bathroom amenities, new laundry room amenities, and a large new kitchen,” she said. “We’ll also be adding quite a few officers here on site so we can have staff available to the residents as they need it.”
Addressing safety concerns
Meanwhile, Riegle wants to address any concerns that Robbinsdale residents might have about homeless veterans moving into this space.
“Every time we come into a neighborhood, there is always a little bit of a sense of fear, of something new,” Riegle said. “What’s going to happen? Who are my neighbors going to be now? Who am I going to be living next to? One thing we always let folks know is, people experiencing homelessness, they might have some barriers to stability, but they just want a home. And usually when we get them into a home, they don’t want to jeopardize that.”
Riegle says the hope is to begin the rehab work soon and get veterans into the building by the end of the year.
“We’re really looking forward to be able to house more vets in this beautiful, historic building,” she said.
At the moment, the Robin Hotel currently has more than a dozen people living on site. The nonprofit says it plans to work with the current occupants to help them find affordable housing elsewhere.
Meanwhile, before rehab can begin, MACV needs to find a way to provide at least six parking spaces for the residents of that building. Riegle says the nonprofit is working through that issue with the city.
Related: Newsmakers: Hennepin County Commissioner Kevin Anderson Talks Broadband, Veterans Homelessness