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Plans Becoming More Concrete For Drake Hotel Residents Moving Forward

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minneapolis Foundation will distribute $250,000 for long-term housing for those affected by the Drake Hotel fire on Christmas Day.

The money comes from the "Minnesota Helps – Drake Hotel Fire Recovery Fund," and will be given to Pillsbury United Communities to help fund short-term and long-term housing solutions for those affected by the fire.

READ MORE: Investigators Don't Believe Drake Hotel Fire Was Intentionally Set

On Thursday, a representative with PUC says every dollar will go directly into the hands of the individuals who need it.

"I think this is shining a light on an issue that I know that we've all knew was out there … this hopefully will be the spark to larger conversations that we need to be tackling around housing situations for our most vulnerable populations," PUC President and CEO Adair Mosley said.

The organization has been in the Twin Cities for 140 years, stepping up to help victims of two other mass catastrophes; the north Minneapolis tornado in 2011, and the Interstate 35W Bridge collapse in 2007.

PUC will also provide support services, like help filling out paperwork, as well as funds to help cover the cost of application fees and down payments.

Around 70 of the 250 people displaced by this fire have been staying at the First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis.

"It's been a very emotional time. There's been dozens of conversations where the leading fear is that they will be left behind, left behind as the news cycle moves on, as the shelter does close in a few weeks," First Covenant Church Reverend Dan Collison said.

Dr. Jeffery Jones used to live in the Drake Hotel, but he lost everything in the fire.

"There's so many noises. It's not like sleeping at home in a nice bed," Jones said. "It's a shelter."

Children Displaced From Drake Hotel Fire
(credit: CBS)

He says every day is a desperate scramble to figure out where he is going to live next.

"I'm not really sure. I'm feeling the trauma or the stress from the fire because my mind's so busy dealing with day-to-day items," Jones said.

So far, 17 people have moved out of the church shelter and into new homes. Some Drake residents have been living at a hotel in Bloomington for the last two weeks. They will start moving into more permanent housing starting Friday.

"We've had a few people move out this week, which is really good, we like to see that," American Red Cross Shelter Manager Kyle Parkinson said.

The American Red Cross announced on Thursday that they will close the shelter on Jan. 22, so it can resume as a church. The Red Cross says they will still be available to provide emergency resources to people who need it after the closure date.

The Minneapolis Foundation has distributed additional funds to support short-term and long-term recovery efforts. Details of those distributions can be found here.

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