Innovative concept to house veterans and elderly tribal members

Recently, I visited Jeff Ackley of Sokaogon Chippewa Housing Authority (SCHA) on the construction site. Jeff and his team have one successful Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) project up and running, and they have two new projects in the works. (UPDATE: shortly after my visit, SCHA received news that BOTH new projects were awarded credits in a recent allocation round. Congrats to Jeff and his team!)

One of the new projects, called the Sokaogon Supportive Residences, is an innovative concept, and I’d like to share it in case it helps spark some ideas for others working to develop affordable housing. There is a 25-unit motel that sits just a half-mile from the housing office. The motel is currently vacant. It was replaced by the Mole Lake Casino and Lodge. SCHA acquired the motel from the tribe and is planning to convert the building into 25 efficiency or studio-style apartments that will serve veterans and elderly tenants.

The building is perfectly suited for this concept. It is easily accessible from the main road, and all of the units are at ground level. Once renovated, the building will include an on-site manager’s unit, a common living area, kitchen and laundry space, covered parking and storage, and enclosed, secured entries to all the units.

The building’s structure is in good shape, but it will need a lot of updating and improvement in order to meet the goals of Jeff and his team. Like a traditional motel room, the spaces are only large enough for a bed and bathroom. The design process should be interesting.

To update these units from temporary living spaces to full time homes, the team will need to find creative ways to add on to the building to allow for the additional space needed. Below are some before photos. I look forward to seeing this project come together.

If you have a similar vacant building or unique project concept, contact me at ashley@travois.com to talk more about how you can turn it into affordable housing.

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