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Fargo high rise residents to seek new housing with help of HUD vouchers

The ultimate fate of Lashkowitz High Rise remains to be seen.

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The Fargo High Rise Senior Center located at 101 2nd St. S. is seen on Monday, May 11, in Fargo. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
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FARGO — The Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority is getting vouchers from the federal government to help residents of the Lashkowitz High Rise find new homes.

Each of the approximately 247 residents of the high rise, which serves seniors and people with disabilities, will receive a housing voucher from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, to support their relocation.

The first 155 vouchers will be distributed for use this year. An additional 92 vouchers are expected later this year for use in 2021, according to Fargo Housing.

The vouchers are typically for 1-bedroom units and amount to about $660 a month, according to Jim Gilmour, director of strategic planning and research for the city of Fargo.

Gilmour said HUD recently stated the nearly 50-year-old high rise could be disposed of and the property redeveloped.

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According to Gilmour, the HUD decision gives Fargo Housing several options, including tearing the building down, selling the property as-is or tearing down the building and replacing it with new low-income housing.

While all three options remain a possibility, it's very likely the high rise will need to be torn down due to things like failing infrastructure and plumbing concerns, said Matthew Pike, Fargo Housing's executive director and CEO.

Gilmour said it might make sense to coordinate the disposition of the high rise property with possible future development of a nearby parcel of land that was home to the Park East apartments, which were torn down.

The Fargo City Commission recently decided not to accept any of three proposals for the former Park East property, including one put together by Fargo Housing, which has talked about a facility that would have about 110 housing units for low-income residents, according to Gilmour.

That parcel is owned by the city but any future use for it would likely need approval of the Metro Flood Diversion Authority, Gilmour said.

Pike said the first round of HUD vouchers will allow Fargo Housing to address the needs of high rise residents while exploring potential uses for the property.

"Fargo Housing is committed to partnering with the city and community at large to envision what the next 50 years looks like for maintaining affordable housing at that location," Pike said of the high rise site.

About a dozen landlords have contacted Fargo Housing offering help in finding apartments for high rise residents, according to Pike, who said the emphasis will be on making the transition as stress-free as possible.

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He said the agency plans to keep the number of moves to about 20 households a month "to be able to give them customized assistance in this relocation."

The high rise was developed and operated by Fargo Housing with funds under the U.S. Housing Act of 1937. It saw its first occupants in 1971.

Since then, the high rise has served as a home to thousands of elderly and low-income Fargo residents.

Pike said there is no guarantee, but there is a chance people who are being moved out of the high rise now could return to the neighborhood if something new is ultimately built there, possibly through some kind of public-private partnership.

"We're making it clear to everybody that, should they wish to return, please let us know, because we're creating the waiting list now for whatever future use on that property might be available," Pike said.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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