BEMIDJI — After a recent inspection of a Ridgeway Court apartment, 10 families have received a notice to vacate the building due to unsafe living conditions.
Bemidji City Council
heard a report from rental inspector Ben Hein during its session on Monday, May 16, on the Ridgeway apartment located at 2830 Ridgeway Ave. NW and its deteriorating and unsafe conditions.
“The steady decline of 2830 has reached a breaking point,” Hein said. “Although the property owners have made some progress in making repairs to the building, the deterioration has dramatically outpaced the repairs.”
A recent inspection of the building, owned by NETA Property Management out of Fargo, N.D., found broken windows, discarded needles in the hallway, holes in walls and doors that could not be locked or secured, among other infractions.
All of these issues led to Hein pursuing the revocation of the building’s rental license and posting notices requiring management to vacate the 10 families living in the building within 30 days.
“I understand that this is a big step and that some people will be inconvenienced during this process,” Hein said, “but as a community, we need to come to the aid of one another and make sure that everyone has a safe place to live.”
Four of the families living in the building have already received help arranging other living situations, leaving six that still need assistance with housing.
As a part of the notification process, residents that were asked to vacate were given resources whom they can contact for help, including the Beltrami County Health and Human Services office.
“I think we will see a rally of support around these families, I have no doubt,” said Ward 2 Councilor Josh Peterson.
The Ridgeway apartments have had other issues in the past and residents from the buildings have brought these concerns to the city and filed complaints about management and safety previously.
“It’s sad, and I’m personally upset that we’ve waited this long to address the issues of people who need to be heard in this community,” Ward 1 Councilor Audrey Thayer said.
Following Hein giving the council his report, Mayor Jorge Prince shared a letter he had received from a resident who lived in one of the apartments.
“The building I live in has boards in place of glass on the doors … the apartment windows are completely busted out,” Prince read. “It goes on and on. I’m starting to fear for my family, but I don’t feel like it should be us that have to leave. Help, please.”
With action finally taken about the apartment’s situation, members of the council acknowledged the difficulty of such a decision.
“This has been a long process,” said Ward 4 Councilor Emelie Rivera. “This was the absolute last option we wanted.”
But now that it’s been taken, the council expressed hope that the community would come together to support the families affected and help them during the transition to new housing.
“These are good people, trying to make a good living,” said At-Large Councilor Daniel Jourdain. “This community is standing together on issues like this. That goes to show how strong Bemidji is.”
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, attempts to contact NETA for comment were unsuccessful.
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