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Cloquet declares apartments unfit for human habitation

An order of repair was initially placed on the building, owned by Roger Bruhn, in September 2020.

Cloquet City Hall.jpg
Cloquet City Hall. 2019 file / Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — A building inspection has led the city to declare the apartments at 17 Eighth St. unfit for human habitation.

The notice was posted on the building April 7. The description of the violation was that the building lacks proper structural supports for the rear fire exit staircase.

Community Development Director Holly Hansen said the order applies to the second and third floors of the building as the staircase is not safe for use.

"There has just been no resolution to the matter, unfortunately," she said.

An order of repair was initially placed on the building, owned by Roger Bruhn, in September 2020, according to Hansen, but Bruhn has not moved forward with repairs and Hansen official deemed the staircase unsafe.

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She said the city has been working with Bruhn to resolve the issue. "We've been going around and around, and at this point the staircase is extremely dangerous," Hansen said.

While the notice states that residents have until May 1 to move out if Bruhn doesn't start repairs, Hansen said the deadline for residents was extended to June 1.

Until the staircase has been repaired and the entire building has been inspected and approved by the city, the floors and units would need to remain vacant.

"That decision (to repair) has to be made by the landlord, and in the meantime tenants have to leave if (the landlord) is not going to fix it," she said.

Bruhn said he has owned the building since 2005. The pandemic proved to be a major issue with the eviction moratorium. Four of his 12 tenants stopped paying rent.

While programs like RentHelpMN provided some support, he said it didn't cover all of the revenue that was lost.

When looking into repairing the issue, Bruhn said the cost came out to $80,000, which would be a large portion of the building he said is valued around $300,000.

"I haven't been able to come up with the financing and that is a large repair on a $300,000 building," he said.

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While he has worked with local and state agencies to try and secure funding or assistance, he said he continues to have a "dry well" when it comes to finding any.

"Hopefully, that changes, because I don't get any benefit from not resolving it," he said. "I'm surprised there aren't more COVID-19 relief funds for these types of outcomes."

Bruhn added the city has been transparent with him throughout the duration of this process and understands the reasoning behind the notice.

"At this point in time we are six weeks out, and we want everyone in the building to land safely," he said.

There will be a meeting for residents at 10 a.m. Monday, April 18, at 950 14th St. Representatives from Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, the city, Housing & Redevelopment Authority, Salvation Army and others will be present.

Related Topics: CLOQUETHOUSING
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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