Archive for April, 2021

Other New Projects

Posted on: April 14th, 2021

Speaking of things that have fallen in place (but are backed by years of work), Alliance Housing was pleased to receive the final piece of funding it needed to proceed with building 3301 Nicollet – future home for 64 households of low wage workers, many who need a 2nd chance at stable housing.  We’re working on the paperwork to close on financing in early September 2021, will start construction soon thereafter and begin leasing apartments in October 2022.  Hennepin County, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines and the City of Minneapolis have provided the $15 million of project funding needed to proceed with the project.

Our first meeting about the project was with the Lyndale Neighorhood Association’s Development and Housing Committee in 2016.  The committee and organization gave their support from the very beginning.  They wanted to see more productive and positive economic activity on the corner from the dilapidated commercial structure that was there until Alliance demolished it in Fall 2018.  It has taken 3 years of persistence in funding applications to get to this point along with work by Frerichs Construction, our general contractor, to provide updated pricing and Paul Gates Architect to refine and create the design plan.  We all look forward to the first shovel of dirt turning and the first tenant moving in to a brand new, affordable apartment.

Other work that keeps us moving are the search for additional family sized rental properties and discussing 3rd party management with other property owners with similar values as Alliance.  Our list of interested family applicants, some 250+ families, is at a standstill.  Our existing family tenants aren’t moving – they have really nice places for a really affordable rent.  We’re scouring the market for 3-10 unit properties with 2 or more bedrooms to allow us to house more families.  We’ve got a $1 million commitment from an anonymous donor to assist with a purchase.  We’ve got access to credit and the know how in how to raise additional capital.  If you know of any properties in/around our existing properties that are or will become available, please let us know.

We’ve built up a bit of property management capacity in our operation as a transition for the eventual retirement of a long time staffer.  Tamuno Imbu came on fulltime in May 2020.  Tiffany Simmons came on part-time in October 2020.  Bob Bono became part-time in February 2021.  We’re in conversation with organizations and individuals who own property but need some property management expertise.

Rothstein Event – April 21st on Zoom

Posted on: April 14th, 2021

Alliance Housing, Inc., Plymouth Congregational Church, the Hennepin History Museum and Align Minneapolis have rescheduled an evening with Richard Rothstein that was cancelled due to the pandemic in early 2020.  Rothstein and the event will be live on video chat on April 21st at 7pm.  He will discuss his book The Color of Law. Racial segregation characterizes every metropolitan area in the U.S. and bears responsibility for our most serious social and economic problems – it corrupts our criminal justice system, exacerbates economic inequality, and produces large academic gaps between white and African American schoolchildren.  Alliance hopes Professor Rothstein’s talk helps illuminate a better understanding of who is poor, homeless and the lives of Alliance tenants.

For more information or to register for the event:  (https://hennepinhistory.org/event/color-of-law/.

The Pohlad Foundation and the Minneapolis Foundation have provided support to this event so we could keep costs to guests low.

Please plan to join us: 30th Anniversary reception

Posted on: April 14th, 2021

Please save the evening of Thursday, September 30th on your calendars.  Assuming we’re past pandemic restrictions, we’d like you to help us celebrate “in person” our 30th anniversary.  We’ll host an evening reception in lieu of our traditional early morning breakfast at the Town and Country Club.  Besides food and drink, we’ll honor past board members, staff and invite some of our longer tenured tenants talk about their stories.

In honor of its anniversary, Alliance Housing would like to raise $1 million dollars to sustain its work long-term.  The dollars will be used over the next 30 years to make capital repairs to sustain 21 scattered site properties as “best on the block”

 

While many of Alliance’s scattered site properties are nearly 100 years old.  We pride ourselves in having the “best house on the block.”  We respond to tenant calls about maintenance and have developed a plan to keep the properties in good shape long term by completing larger improvements like roofs and major kitchen or bathroom remodeling.

 

Alliance Housing has $308,000 saved for long term capital improvements as of December 2020.  We add about $40,000 to the fund each year.  A recent assessment of all capital improvements needed over the next 30 years indicates we’ll need another $1,000,000 to maintain the quality of our properties on behalf of the tenants and neighbors and our own asset.  We did a soft start to the fundraising campaign in 2020 and added $10,000 to capital reserves.  Please let us know if you can make a one- time gift or a multi-year pledge to this effort.

Sometimes things just fall in place. . .

Posted on: April 14th, 2021

Here at Alliance Housing, we’ve been advocating and agitating for many years for our belief that rooming houses and sleeping rooms can be part of the solution to the problem of homelessness.  In this past year our efforts have begun to bear fruit. We were able to expand our portfolio with the addition of a 31 unit rooming house in the Stevens Square neighborhood. At the same time, we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in this idea among policy-makers. To me it feels like luck, but Board member Fran Neir reminds me that we’ve put in a lot of time laying the groundwork.

Let me tell you about our newest property.  Because we believe in rooming houses as a viable and valuable option for people with precious little money to spend on rent, Alliance has been actively seeking another rooming house property for several years. Last summer we looked at a property at 143 E. 19th Street that was owned by Volunteers of America.  They were consolidating some programs and wanted to sell this property.

Alliance could not afford to buy it and operate it at the asking price, but we knew that Hennepin County was looking for properties to purchase with federal CARES Act dollars, for permanent housing for the men and women staying in the shelter hotels during the pandemic.  We shared the sale information with them.  To make a long story short, Hennepin County purchased the property, and Alliance was selected to manage it along the lines of our existing model.

After rehabilitation by Hennepin County, the doors opened in December and the first tenants moved in December 30, 2020.  We call it Stevens Square Residence.

Among the first to move in was R. Torkelson – a 53 year man from the shelter. He had been homeless for the past 4 years, in and out of the shelters and was grateful to move into a place he could settle in and call his own. Mr. Torkelson expressed how his health has been an issue and he hasn’t been able to address it being homeless. Stevens Square gives him a 2nd chance to take care of himself, again.

Joining Torkelson and the others is David Sobata. He had previously lived at another Alliance Housing property and was excited to know Stevens Square is managed by us, as well. David enjoyed being at one of Hennepin County’s “shelter hotels” over the last year and was worried about the transition to his own unit. Yet, he know no shelter was permanent and needed some assurance of stability in his life.  After a few months David says, “having my own room and being independent is wonderful.” He has made his unit his own and has been an advocate at Steven Square to keep things clean and running well.

At the same time, we’ve noticed that our advocacy efforts around the issue are paying off, as well.  New rooming houses have been forbidden in the City of Minneapolis for decades.  The only way to provide additional units was purchase of a rooming house with an existing license.  I’ve looked at several existing properties, and there aren’t many worth purchasing, or living in.  Most are the kind of properties that give rooming houses a bad name: poorly managed and poorly maintained for decades.

But this year, attitudes toward the rooming house model of affordable housing began to shift.  Two initiatives have invigorated the conversation. First, the City and County have each formed a task force to increase the number of rooming houses in Minneapolis and Hennepin County. As a representative of an organization with experience operating rooming houses, I was asked to join both task forces.  Minneapolis Councilmembers Gordon, Schroeder and Goodman are leading the City study process, with the goal of crafting a resolution allowing new sleeping room licenses in Minneapolis.  The legislation is expected to be in front of the City Council in Spring 2021.

Concurrently, Hennepin County Commissioner Opat urged the County to do what it could to encourage quality rooming house properties as part of the broader County affordable housing strategy.  He started a study committee to learn what was needed and what barriers existed to build or renovate them in various communities across the County.  The committee continues to meet even with the exit of Commissioner Opat from his seat, and is expected to present its recommendations this summer.

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