Archive for June, 2023

2116 Nicollet – Future home to Alliance

Posted on: June 6th, 2023

Alliance is excited to announce that we will be partnering with the Whittier Alliance, Whittier’s neighborhood organization, to bring to life a new development at 2116 Nicollet Ave! The building will include low-barrier affordable housing, community meeting and event space, and office space for both Alliance and the Whittier Alliance.

After acquiring the vacant site in the spring of 2021, Whittier Alliance set out to determine how the space could be developed to best serve the community. And who better to ask then the community? Whittier Alliance spent the summer of 2022 conducting outreach to determine the needs and desires of the Whittier community, specifically focusing on residents who live within four blocks of 2116 Nicollet. Environmental sustainability and affordable residential space ranked at the top of people’s desires. With the knowledge that Alliance’s mission statement and values aligned with both the goals of Whittier Alliance and the goals of the community, we submitted a proposal to partner with Whittier Alliance and were selected as their partner.

Our building is designed specifically with our community in mind. It will include a mix of affordable single room occupancy units, efficiency units, and one-bedrooms. The first floor will feature community meeting space and both the Whittier Alliance and Alliance Housing offices.

Officing in the same building as our tenants will tell the story of our mission. Sharing space with our residents will allow staff, visitors, and residents to connect around our shared goal of inclusive, affordable, relational, and flexible housing. Every day, we will be able to see our mission and values in action. Sharing an office with Whittier Alliance is not only an eco-friendly office solution, but we will also be better able to collaborate with each other.

We’ll share updates over the coming months as we apply for funding, finalize building plans and begin construction. This marks the exciting start of a new chapter for Alliance!

By Eva Schmidt, Executive Assistant

Our longest tenant – Greg Mure

Posted on: June 6th, 2023

Like most of us, Greg Mure never thought he would be homeless. After struggling with a series of unexpected challenges in 2006, he found himself sleeping on a park bench in South Minneapolis with his belongings in bags. The next morning, when he awoke, he saw that his bags had been ripped open, and several men around the park were wearing his clothing. One of them, seeing his confusion, commented, “You haven’t been homeless before, have you?”

Taking him under his wing, this gentleman taught Greg some strategies for surviving on the streets. In addition to getting a hot meal with the gentleman, he found his way from the shelter to Alliance Housing and a room at 2011 Pillsbury. Seventeen years later, he has upgraded his accommodations, but he still calls his Alliance building home. Greg is the longest-continuing tenant in any Alliance building.

To this day, Greg still remembers the feeling of getting his key. He recalls the comfort he felt when he was able to plug in his phone, to take a shower, and wash his clothes. Having stable housing allowed him to piece his life back together. He was able to secure a job working security detail at the University of Minnesota. There, he wound up escorting Brett Favre to the press box, Queen Latifah to her dressing room, and Mick Jagger to the stage.

All those encounters, however exciting, paled in comparison to the pride he felt when he was able to buy a car. Greg uses the vehicle around town, but he also uses it as a food shelf volunteer. He drives boxes of food to neighborhood food shelves, and he gives rides to the people carrying those boxes back to their homes.

Not long after finding his place on Pillsbury, Greg was asked to serve on the Alliance Board because of his ability so share his lived experience related to our mission. While on the board, Greg thoughtfully presented tenant perspectives, even when it was difficult. Sharing his perspective pushed Alliance’s leadership to wrestle more thoughtfully with tricky issues like rent increases, eviction policies, and expansion plans. He respectfully informed board members of the impact that these changes would have on residents, while also understanding the need to chart a sustainable path for the organization. Greg has aspirations of buying his own building to donate to Alliance to create another opportunity for stable housing.

Today, Greg feels far from that day he woke up on a park bench in south Minneapolis. He takes great pride in his apartment, and in the work he has done to fix it up. The hallways are freshly painted. He upgraded the bathroom. He even found a place for his piano—he’s a self-taught pianist and plays with and for his neighbors. Alliance may have created the housing, but he has truly made it his home.

Written by Ben Olk, Board Member

Our newest tenant – Jerel Stimpel

Posted on: June 6th, 2023

Jerel Stimpel is one of our newest residents. The 28 year-old cook and photographer moved into his apartment earlier this spring and so far, he’s settling in nicely. When asked about his favorite part of the unit, he answers quickly: “The kitchen.” His favorite meal to cook? Southern comfort food, or a New York strip steak with all the sides. Every Sunday, he and his family gather for dinner. Now that he has his own place, he is looking forward to hosting family dinner soon.

Before finding a home with Alliance, Jerel was in a situation many of our residents are familiar with. After leaving a toxic relationship, Jerel found himself without a place to live and without the resources to secure one. He spent the year living almost entirely out of his car. “Where I was living was uninhabitable,” he says.

However, between paying off debt, building credit, keeping his car running, renting hotel rooms for freezing winter nights, and buying other necessities like food, Jerel had no money left for a security deposit to secure housing. “People are feeling some type of way, I was feeling down,” Jerel said. Dealing with the compounding trauma of the pandemic, police brutality, and homelessness took a toll on Jerel. Despite being unhoused, Jerel held down a job consistently throughout the year, working as a cook at local restaurants and catering companies. He also got involved with Creative MPLS, a multipurpose recording and photography studio, as a photographer and videographer.

Eventually, a Hennepin County case worker referred Jerel to Alliance. He met with an Alliance Property Manager who worked with him to understand the process of moving in—from knowing exactly how much to save for the security deposit to budgeting for rent. Working with a property manager who understood his situation made all the difference. Within a few months he was ready to move in. Soon after, Jerel’s brother, who had also been experiencing homelessness, was also able to move into the same building. For Jerel, having his brother live across the hall “[is] a reason to get up every day.”

Now that he is settled into his new home, Jerel plans to continue pursuing his two passions: cooking and photography. He will be continuing to work with Creative MPLS, setting up his own LLC, and selling his own food. When asked about what he wants to tell others about affordable housing and the work that Alliance does, Jerel says “It gets better, there is help.”

By Eva Schmidt, Executive Assistant

Ebony’s one year!

Posted on: June 6th, 2023

Ebony started working with Alliance Housing in January 2022 as our part-time Housing Operations Assistant. Ebony is a bright light on the Alliance team, growing in her contributions every day. After six months in the role, Ebony moved to full-time, adding administrative responsibility for processing our donations. After another six months, Ebony was promoted to Assistant Property Manager, taking on leasing our units designated for individuals leaving homelessness.

Ebony is a great cheerleader for her teammates and is deeply committed to our mission of providing low-barrier affordable housing. Safe, affordable housing has been critical in Ebony’s life as she navigates single parenting three boys.

Ebony shared with her colleague Eva, “I am happy to serve in a space where the need of the homeless population is our number one priority.”

By Jessie Hendel, Executive Director

The grand opening of 3301 Nicollet

Posted on: June 6th, 2023

Earlier this spring, Alliance hosted the grand opening of our newest property: a 64-unit apartment at 3301 Nicollet Ave. Community members, board members, staff, and city and county officials gathered on April 20th to celebrate! Together, we toured the property, learned about the design and construction process from architect Paul Gates, and heard from residents and project leaders about the impacts of the project. We’re excited to provide more affordable housing for people who need it in a brand-new, eco-friendly building.

Kids around mulch pile resized

When Alliance first purchased the land in 2017, we knew from prior experience that bringing the building to completion would be complicated—the process includes acquiring funding, drafting and finalizing building plans, and undertaking construction. But we didn’t know that this would all take place during a pandemic, adding to the complications.

When designing 3301 Nicollet, Alliance’s vision was to provide environmentally sustainable brick-and-mortar housing solutions to address homelessness in the Lyndale neighborhood. Of the 64 units, 24 are reserved for individuals transitioning out of homelessness, providing access to housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness is a critical part of Alliance’s mission. Individuals can also access on-site supportive services provided by AVIVO. The remaining 40 units are reserved for adults and small families earning 30% to 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

3301 Nicollet includes eco-friendly linoleum flooring, bike storage, EV charging stations, and rooftop solar panels. Providing sustainable and affordable energy in our new buildings is crucial. Using renewable energy creates positive environmental impacts, but also it also reduces energy costs for the building, savings which get passed on to tenants. Sustainability both aligns with our values and is increasingly a funder requirement.

Leasing for the property began in December 2022. By the time the grand opening rolled around in March 2023, only 3 of the 64 units were vacant, with two more move-ins happening later that week. While we are thrilled that the building is full, it is clear we need even more affordable housing in Minneapolis.

At the Grand Opening event, one of 3301 Nicollet’s first tenants Toni Thompson spoke during the program. She said, “I have not had access to stable housing for the last 10 years. During this time, I struggled with depression. I am thrilled to have my own place and begin to work on some of my goals around stabilizing my mental health and reconnecting with family.”

By Eva Schmidt, Executive Assistant