January 2019 Roundup

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity logo; 2 cute pre-school boys on bikes outside a house; Every family deserves an affordable home

Every Family Deserves an Affordable Home

Currently, 1 in 4 Minnesotans are housing cost-burdened – spending more than 30% of their income on shelter which leaves less for healthy food, education and savings. But that leaves 3 in 4 who can help – including you? Rounding up in January for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is a small way to say that we at Hampden Park Co-op advocate for affordable housing!

Some Background

You might be familiar with Habitat because of Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter's volunteer work with the organization. The early ideas were imagined in 1942 on Koinonia Farm, an intentional community in Georgia – leading to the concept of “partnership housing” and the founding of Habitat for Humanity International in 1976. Today, there are affiliates in more than 1,400 communities and 70 countries.

In 1985, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity was established in Minneapolis. Since then, 1,200+ households have partnered with them to achieve homeownership. Now, each year they help 50–55 families purchase a house, and repair the homes of about 125 more.

Committed to improving the quality of life, health and economic prosperity of our 7-county metro area, TC Habitat directs their efforts at homeownership because families with homes are the foundation of successful communities. The group works to strenghten community by doing more than constructing houses – they do this by:
Building: Providing affordable mortgages, setting families up for success with coaching and training.
Stabilizing: Preserving homes through the A Brush with Kindness paint and repair program, and foreclosure counseling.
Collaborating: Revitalizing neighborhoods with community partnerships to improve quality of life.
Advocating: Raising their voices for public investment and good housing policies.
Connecting: Engaging in partnerships around the world through financial support and Global Village volunteer trips.

Smiling mother & young daughter on porch wearing Habitat hard hats; girl has a paint brush + stuffed dog

The Need in the Twin Cities

Locally we have an affordable housing crisis with rising rents and low vacancy rates. These challenges disproportionately affect families of color and households headed by single mothers. The impact of Habitat's work:
Health: Inadequate housing negatively impacts health, especially for kids. After moving into Habitat homes, asthma and allergies are two conditions that dramatically improve in children.
Economic prosperity: A healthy housing market attracts businesses that depend on a range of housing options for their employees.
Education: Providing stable, healthy housing is one of the most effective ways to help low-income children do better in school.
Transportation: When people can find good, affordable housing near their work it decreases the demands on our transportation system, reducing congestion and commuting costs.
Environment: Habitat’s commitment to green building results in energy-efficient homes that are more affordable to maintain.
In 2015, Wilder Research and Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota quantified some of these impacts. Stats from the TC Habitat homeowners surveyed included:
• 68% said their kids’ grades improved
• 91% felt better about their kids' futures
• 41% visited the doctor less frequently
• 78% felt connected to community

The data shows that the positive effects of homeownership ripple to every area of a family’s life and grow with each generation – contributing to healthier families, greater success in school, more economic opportunity, and revitalized neighborhoods.

Additionally, rates of public assistance use dropped; it's estimated that Habitat homeownership saves taxpayers $6.4M to $9.3M each year. Here's a snapshot of the Wilder report.

TC Habitat for Humanity building on University @ Prior; snowy evening with dramatic sky & windows lit

In Our Neighborhood

In 2014, TC Habitat relocated nearby to University & Prior. The nonprofit intentionally situated their headquarters to be mass-transit friendly, with plenty of meeting and training rooms in the striking building. About $400,000 in building materials were donated.

Decor incorporates construction materials in whimsical ways such as their logo made of nails, plus other touches like homey rocking chairs in the lobby, and a "quilt wall" of fabric pieces contributed by people involved with Habitat. Read more in a Midway-Como Monitor article, and take a Flickr slideshow tour from Finance & Commerce magazine.

Construction resulted in a headquarters certified to meet the LEED Silver standard which stands as an example of their commitment to sustainable building. They are the largest builder of Energy Star homes in MN, and every new or rehabbed house emphasizes energy efficiency. TC Habitat even partnered with the UMN on a net-zero energy project. More about their green headquarters here and homes at the bottom of this page.

About a quarter of TC Habitat homes are in St. Paul. To see a current new build in progress, drive by 521 Edmund Ave W. in Frogtown. The volunteer group Women Build (how cool is that?) started the house this past summer, and finishing work will be going on through February 2019.

2 photos of 521 Edmund juxtaposed: boarded up house from Google Maps vs. new house with scaffolding & 7 Women Build construction workers in matching shirts & hard hats in action

Sometimes efforts focus not on houses, but rather on neighborhood revitalization. For residents of Charles Ave. between Dale & Kent, Habitat decided NOT to build a home when neighbors indicated they didn't want new construction on their block. Read about it in this blog post.

ReStore Home Improvement Outlets

TC Habitat also operates two ReStores – retail stores open to the public with donated building supplies and home furnishings/decor. Shop & save money – OR donate and put your old stuff to good use. It keeps reusable items out of landfills, and revenue helps build several homes each year. Locations:
• New Brighton: 510 County Rd D West
• Minneapolis: 2700 Minnehaha Ave

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See and read much more, including about volunteer opportunities, on Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity's website.

Photos courtesy of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (except screen shot from Google Maps). Slideshow photos by Bill Klotz, Finance & Commerce staff photographer.
Posted by Christine DeMars including info from MN Habitat sources • January 2019