Update: Dundry fire

By April 17, 2024Uncategorized

Dear Friends of Hope,

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you that, on Thursday, April 4, there was a severe fire at one of Hope’s properties: the Dundry House, a 25-unit building located at 1829 5th Avenue South, which Hope has owned since 2002 and has been vacant since June 2023. We’re grateful for the response from the Minneapolis Fire Department, and for the fact that no one was hurt; however, the fire resulted in irreparable damage. We’re now taking the necessary steps of planning for demolition of the building. We are also deeply grieving the loss of this building, and all that it represents. This is a loss of desperately needed deeply affordable, supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, and a building that has provided transformational homes for people in our community for decades. We are sad that this is how the Dundry’s story ends. We are holding space for these emotions for ourselves and our community.

In the short term, we are urgently pursuing a path to secure the site by removing the structure and any remaining safety threat it poses. Unfortunately, this is the continuation of a costly process that we began last year in June when we made the difficult decision to close the building and rehouse all residents. We had a supportive housing model in place at the Dundry for nearly 20 years; however, there have simply not been enough public resources invested in supportive housing to make that model viable for Hope to continue providing safe, dignified housing for our residents. Continuing to operate the Dundry without sufficient resources would have put all of Hope’s other work at risk. We continue to reach out to the city, our partners in the affordable housing sector, and our funders to get to a point where the site no longer poses a risk to health and safety.

Longer-term, we are committed to sharing the lessons of the Dundry as a case study of the convergence of systemic failures in a single site. This is a reverberation of the alarm we have been sounding for the last two years about the significant gaps in funding and services for affordable housing. We have joined fellow nonprofits, funders, and many others to advocate for those needed investments, testified before the State legislature, and continued to bring our experience to bear in shaping our housing system. Responding to the needs of our community with boarded buildings has never been and will never be the answer. With a strong civic will and collective response, we can do better.

One of Hope’s greatest strengths is creating a shared community vision for the future. Once the structure is removed, we see the opportunity for a collaborative process that honors the history of the Dundry and determines how the site can continue to serve the community in the future.

We hope you will join us as we reflect, name our aspirations for the future, and build a newvision for the Dundry site. Do you have memories of the Dundry or the people who called it home over the years? What are your hopes for the future of the site? Send us a message and keep watch for future invitations for ways to engage. We welcome your recollections and dreams.

To paraphrase a favorite saying of our dear founder Char Madigan, rebuilding at this site will take some collective “dreaming and scheming,” and we invite your support to help us both to dream and to help us realize that dream through action. Your continued financial support is especially appreciated and impactful at this difficult time. It means more than ever.

In community,

Chaka Mkali & Will Delaney
Co-Executive Directors (Interim)

PDF: Dundry fire update