Alliance Housing Inc. is like an enduring classic novel. Its theme or story line remains unchanged. Give people a second chance. Rent to individuals and families with a history of homelessness, at the bottom end of the wage scale, and those who have often been screened out due to their rental or criminal history by other landlords. Make it work with simple expectations – pay rent mostly on time and behave as a good neighbor and tenant. Keep property management relational and lean. Develop new properties and rehab existing properties with no amortizing debt. Reach out to donors like yourselves to help us keep rents 15-25% below market so that our tenants can remain stably housed, retain jobs and get their kids to school. 2014 was a year of transition for Alliance Housing Inc. The board of directors stewarded the organization through a leadership change. To continue the book metaphor, it appears existing funders, partners and contributors have turned the page to the new chapter with us. The next real estate development chapter also contains some old and new. In the last chapter, some funding was raised for Jordan Apartments and a property to house homeless adults, aged 55+. Both have existing funding commitments from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. In addition, Jordan has some funding from the City of Minneapolis and the 55+ project has funding from the Sisters of Carondelet and Mount Olive Lutheran Church. Opportunities and need abound. The board of directors used part of its August 2014 planning session to begin to provide focus and priority to future projects.
Archive for October, 2014
A classic needs to have enduring qualities AND look good on the shelf to attract readers. We work hard to keep our properties “the best on the block.” In the last few months, we rebuilt a crumbling retaining wall at 2103 2nd Avenue S (pictured) and paved the parking area behind 3631 Penn Avenue N. Our maintenance staff faithfully keeps lawns mowed, landscaping weeded and trim, and snow removed. Occasionally, we get a little help picking up trash – the Longfellow Neighborhood engaged the VOA to clean up litter around the neighborhood and visited Hiawatha Commons this spring.
In August 2014, Alliance increased its rents 2%. The board considered this decision in the context of the rental market, property cash flow and our tenantsʼ ability to pay. We donʼt take these decisions lightly. A $10 increase per month is a big challenge to someone living on a disability pension or someone whose low wage and fluctuating hours keep the monthly budget tight. A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition analyzed how many hours a minimum wage worker had to work in order to afford an average cost 2 bedroom apartment. In MN, it was 91 hours per week. Alliance rents rooms with shared bath and kitchen facilities, studios and 1-3 bedroom apartments. A minimum wage worker would have to work 42 hours in a month to afford a room and 117 hours in a month to afford a 3 bedroom unit – well below the averages.
Alliance Housing Inc. is relatively unique in owning and managing rooms for single adults Alliance has 44 rooms – 25 in a rooming house at 2011 Pillsbury (picture) and the rest scattered among 7 properties in south Minneapolis. The advantages of renting a room are many: The rent can be as low as $330 – unheard of in todayʼs hot rental market. The room comes furnished – great for someone just starting out or starting their rental history again. The room is small – easy to keep clean. It provides safety and independence – providing a secure location for oneʼs belongings and in the company of others that can keep an eye on things. Our tenants who rent rooms are varied – men, women, working, not working, old, young. 38% of them are working. 45% are disabled and receiving some sort of government assistance. 14% are retired and receive a pension. The kinds of jobs the tenants have include parking lot attendant, retail clerk, fast food, janitorial, day care. A few work seasonal landscaping and construction labor jobs. The most unique employment is a job on the carnival circuit. Some jobs pay cash. Most pay no benefits.
Greg Mure has lived at 2011 Pillsbury for 5 years. He said that renting a unit in Pillsbury “let him be a man” in the sense that he could support himself and have a place of his own. Greg spent a bit of time in the shelter before moving to Pillsbury. He disliked living with so many other men and being constantly on the watch for petty theft. Compared to that, his rental at 2011 Pillsbury feels like a palace. Greg feels like he is part of the booming economy in Minneapolis. He loves his neighborhood because it seems prosperous and most of the people moving around are working – like himself. Greg described the rooming house as “really quiet.” He and others have seen it not so quiet and they take pride in their attentiveness and working with their neighbors to keep the building safe and secure. Lastly, he offered that it is wonderful to be able to have a guest over to his place. “You canʼt do that if your address is 1010 Currie,” he offered with a sparkle to his eye.