Alliance Housing’s Golden Valley Road four-plex sits just two blocks from Wirth Parkway, a long stretch of park including wide-open green space, and biking and walking trails. It’s a serene setting, yet only a few blocks away from buses and convenient thoroughfares. The building is home to four families – seven adults and six children. It’s easy for the families to walk to the park for fresh air and exercise.
The residents of the four-plex appreciate that they are in a safe, well-kept building and neighborhood. It’s been a perfect environment for them to work on their goals as part of the Northside Supportive Housing for Families (NSHF) program. The focus of NSHF is moving families to economic independence so they will no longer need government supported housing. Although the program is ending, the four families are well-positioned to continue their success.
Tricia and Tyrone and their infant son joined the NSHF program in October of 2013. When their son starts kindergarten this fall, Golden Valley Road will be the only home he has known. This stability allowed Tricia and Tyrone to notice their son was struggling, and to get help for him. He was diagnosed with autism, but thanks to early and consistent intervention, he is learning and flourishing. When they complete their 5 years in the program, both Tricia and Tyrone will have achieved their goals of having bank accounts, improved credit, driver’s licenses, and a car.
In addition to the more tangible benefits of stable and affordable housing such as saving money, Tricia has grown in self-confidence and drive. She has taken on public speaking, proudly presenting on behalf of Alliance on two occasions. In her recent talk with the Minnesota Department of Humans Services staff, Tricia told the audience “I’m not stopping at $15 per hour. I want what you have – a salary and benefits.” This is a huge shift in mindset for Tricia, who was originally ambivalent about working.
Neighbors Starisha and Keith experienced a period of homelessness before moving into their Golden Valley Road home. It’s not surprising that their new-found stability is important to them. Starisha said, “Your whole life is stable if you have a home to go home to.” The couple has been in the program for 4 years. Starisha is getting her Associates Degree in Nursing at MCTC. Keith is working in banking. They have two daughters, and their oldest daughter started kindergarten at a performing arts school this year. The family has paid off most of their debt and is starting to build their credit.
Upstairs, Jinnifer is providing a safe and stable home for her high-school age daughter and 3-year old son. She is working on building her credit and plans to go to school this fall to begin a two-year nursing degree. She’ll get help with tuition from her employer, Hennepin County Medical Center. Her years of experience as a certified nursing assistant helped her get that good paying job and benefits at HCMC. Jinnifer’s two and a half years in the NSHF program have helped her build on her successes.
Across the hall, Angel and Alonzo are celebrating their longest stay in one apartment. They moved in 3 years ago. Leo, Alliance’s volunteer social worker, told the couple about the school choice program, and with Leo’s guidance, they were able to select a school that was a good fit for their kindergarten-aged daughter who loves school and is thriving. Angel is pursuing an Associate Degree in business at MCTC and is applying those newly-learned skills working at MNDOT at a job she loves. Alonzo is starting a training program in building maintenance, so he can have job security and earn a living wage. In addition to their own hard work, Alonzo and Angel also credit Sue Roedl, Supportive Services Coordinator for NSHF, with their success. “Sue has been a terrific resource,” they said. “She’s been able to respond to what we need and help evaluate options.”
When you walk by Alliance’s Golden Valley Road four-plex, you see a clean, well-maintained building. Inside, it is filled with four families – stable, safe, and moving forward. Alliance’s Northside Supportive Housing for Families has achieved its mission.