Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Alliance Housing’s 30th Year Anniversary Celebration

Posted on: October 11th, 2021

Alliance Housing’s board of directors hosted an evening event and fundraiser on September 30th to celebrate the organization’s 30 years of mission focused work.  Friends, family and colleagues seemed pleased to celebrate the legacy of Alliance and its promising future as well as enjoy each other’s company.  Most had had limited social engagements over the last 1 ½ year due to the pandemic.

President Ben Olk III welcomed the crowd and put Alliance’s housing portfolio in the context of the City’s affordable housing shortage and cost crisis.  He did a brief tribute to Executive Director, Barb Jeanetta, who had announced her retirement as of June 30, 2022.  Jeanetta summarized Alliance’s housing portfolio, recent acquisitions.  Some of the year’s policy wins included the City of Minneapolis ordinance that allows new single room occupancy licenses, an issue Alliance had advocated for, for many years.

As usual, the highlight of the event was testimony of Alliance tenants – this year provided in video format.  Yolanda Drew was able to move to a studio apartment at Hiawatha Commons after enduring the behavior of a drug addicted roommate and her friends.  Yolanda’s enthusiasm is infectious and her gratitude to Property Manager, Bob Bono, well deserved.  Keisha Buskey is a hard working head of household.  She works at a care center and was one of the essential workers who reported for work throughout the pandemic.  A Florida transplant, Keisha and her kids consider Minnesota home. (Click each tenant’s name to see their video)

 

Vice President Miranda Walker brought the program to a close while encouraging guests to make a donation towards future work.

Many thanks to all of our donors and sponsors who helped us exceed our fundraising goal for the year’s event – nearing $80,000.

Alliance Housing Prepared for Leadership Transition

Posted on: September 17th, 2021

Barbara Jeanetta, Executive Director of Alliance Housing – a nonprofit developer and owner of inclusive, affordable, relational, and flexible housing – announced recently she will retire from her position in the spring of 2022. During her tenure, Jeanetta strengthened and deepened the housing and advocacy mission of the organization. She will work closely with the Alliance Board to identify and support a new leader who is inspired and motivated to create physical and political environments where individuals and families can create homes for themselves, regardless of income and background.

 

Jeanetta was hired as Alliance Housing’s Executive Director in December of 2013, taking the reins from Alliance’s former Director, Herb Frey, who held the position for over fourteen years. “Alliance Housing was born out of the vision of St. Stephens’ Catholic Church emergency shelter volunteers and residents,” Jeanetta recalled. “I remember Herb saying that they saw a need for more safe, affordable, long-term housing options for the adults that utilized the shelter’s services and created Alliance to meet that need. That is still the central mission for Alliance today: building and operating housing that works for very low-income individuals and households that are really left out of market opportunities. Honestly, I never wanted to be an ED, but I knew, if there was ever an organization that I’d want to lead, it would be Alliance. I always admired Alliance’s relational, no barriers-style with tenants, and that they were trying to provide quality housing, not ‘fix’ people.”

 

Although transitioning from a nearly founding leader to a first successor can be a challenging time for an organization, Jeanetta saw the transition as an opportunity to apply her own unique leadership style to dig deeper into Alliance’s mission. “Barb is ‘straight, no chaser,’” laughs GMHF Senior Loan Officer and Alliance Board Member Miranda Walker. “That’s what I like most about working with her.  Getting work done is efficient because she delivers information and insights with full honesty and transparency.” Indeed, during her tenure, Jeanetta led the organization in acquiring 120 new units of deeply affordable housing and a contract to manage a 31 unit rooming house for Hennepin County, providing her successor with a robust pipeline of properties to develop and manage.

 

“I am really excited about Alliance’s future. Our latest tax credit property, 3301 Nicollet, will house Minneapolis households who fall below 50% of the area median income, with units specially set aside for tenants with a history of long-term homelessness and persons with disabilities (mental illness and co-occurring addition). We expect these units to be leasable after construction completes in about 24 months. We are also pursuing a number of naturally occurring affordable housing (“NOAH”) options to acquire so the city doesn’t lose any affordable units.” These developments offer Alliance Housing’s next Executive Director with a lot of exciting, mission-critical work to see through to the finish line, and an opportunity to apply their own unique leadership style to meet the ever evolving housing and environmental barriers very low-income Minneapolis residents face when seeking safe, dignified and affordable places to call home.

 

Despite the active development pipeline, Jeanetta would be the first to point out that the job of the ED goes far beyond just focusing on “bricks and sticks.” The primary commitment Alliance Housing has made to its tenants is that it will work with them to challenge the social and political environments that limit their opportunities. “I think one of my most impactful accomplishments as ED has been developing Alliance’s policy advocacy role to address system changes,” Jeanetta notes. Under Jeanetta’s leadership, Alliance Housing became an outspoken critic of common rental screening practices, at both local market-rate and affordable projects, that screen out residents with criminal and eviction histories and has proven through its own management practices that low-barrier housing can provide safe, long-term housing for those who need it most. Under Jeanetta, Alliance Housing was also one of the leading advocacy voices fighting to pass Minneapolis’ new SRO ordinance, which will allow non-profits to build and manage more “rooming house”-style projects, with common kitchens and bathrooms, that make it possible to offer units for rent at levels affordable to the very lowest income Minneapolis residents.

 

When surveying Jeanetta’s time at Alliance, Board Chair Ben Olk notes, “Barb has taken Alliance Housing to a whole new level. Her ability to build on what had existed and create relationships with all the stakeholders – tenants, funders, employees – has created a solid foundation on which we can continue to build. While she will be a difficult act to follow, she has created the structures and presence that will allow her successor to continue to create and develop housing so that the most vulnerable can create a home for themselves.”

 

The Alliance Housing Board plans to celebrate Jeanetta at their upcoming 30th Anniversary Reception, to be held Thursday, September 30th  at the St. Paul Town and Country Club.

 

 

 

Please join us!

Posted on: September 13th, 2021

Alliance Housing is celebrating its 30th anniversary year.  Please join us the evening of September 30, 2021 to help celebrate.

We’re planning an “in person” our 30th anniversary reception on Sept. 30th from 5-7pm.  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.

RSVP by emailing info@alliancehousinginc.org or https://www.eventbrite.com/e/alliance-housing-inc-30th-anniversary-fundraising-event-tickets-166315382787

Questions?  Call Barb at 612-879-7633 or email her at bjeanetta@alliancehousinginc.org

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.

Rothstein on “The Color of Law”

Posted on: March 19th, 2021
In this online event for Twin Cities residents, Richard Rothstein will discuss his critically acclaimed book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, a searing account of how federal, state, and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide. Rothstein shows that these policies created racially homogenous neighborhoods in patterns that violate the Constitution and require remediation. In exposing institutional racism, he answers an important question—how did we arrive here?—and raises another one—how do we move forward? The presentation will be followed by Q&A.

About the speaker

Rothstein is a distinguished fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a senior fellow (emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In addition to his most recent book, Rothstein is the author of many other articles and books on race and education, including Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap and Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right. He also was the national education columnist for the New York Times for several years.

Hosts and sponsors

This event is hosted by Hennepin History Museum, Plymouth Congregational Church, Alliance Housing Incorporated, and Align Minneapolis. It is sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation and the Pohlad Family Foundation.

To register:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-color-of-law-tickets-142289478661

Our Interest List Paints a Doleful Picture of the Unhoused

Posted on: December 31st, 2020

At Alliance Housing, we’ve always kept an ‘interest list’ of completed applications.  We can’t call it a ‘waiting list’ because vacancies are few and far between, and most people looking for housing can’t wait. With the incredibly low vacancy rate in the Twin Cities, especially for those at the low end of the income scale, that list has grown to 500 for single adults and 250 for families.  When we started, the list was intended to create a pool of applicants, ready to move in when we have a vacancy in our sleeping rooms or 2-3 bedroom apartments.  Since we only have a handful of vacancies each year, being number 213 on our list doesn’t give much hope.

We keep adding to the list, though, and it serves as a bit of an olive branch for the 5-10 people who call us each week looking for a home.  We have nowhere else to refer them, so we offer them a free application and a slight chance that we might be able to help them somewhere down the line. Our list also serves as a bellwether for the demand for deeply affordable rental units that will give applicants a 2nd chance to access rental housing even if they’ve had an eviction, have criminal convictions, or do not meet standard rent-to-income ratios.

Whenever I mention the 500 person list for sleeping rooms, I observe a lot of incredulous listeners.  Yes, we tell our callers, “For single adults we rent sleeping rooms.  You will have a lease in your name, you will have the room to yourself but you’ll share a bathroom and kitchen with other unrelated adults for around $360 month.”  Now we’ve had to add, “The last person to come off the list waited over two years.”  And still, people complete an application to get their name added to the list.  Some dutifully call regularly to find out where they are on the list or to update their contact information.

Recently, we had a studio apartment open up in one of our contract-managed buildings.  As I called people on the list to see if I could pass their name along, I thought about how I could describe who is out there waiting for our singles housing. Analyzing the applications, I found:

  • About 30% had no income, or had $200 in General Assistance payments from the County. They simply can’t afford to rent from us (remember, they have to come up with $360/month!), unless they begin to earn some income or can secure rental assistance. That rental assistance is scarce; only 1 in 4 eligible persons actually ends up getting it.
  • About 40% had Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) of about $800 per month. These folks can pay the rent for one of our sleeping rooms and still have some money for other life expenses.  While waiting for a vacancy at Alliance Housing, there is little else they can afford in the current housing market.  Some private market sleeping rooms rent for as high as $700 per month.  Studios are hard to find under $800.   And so, the list grows.
  • The balance (30%) had some other sort of retirement income or employment. I don’t have to tell you how many people today have inadequate pensions, savings, or other income for retirement; the statistics are dismal. On our waiting list, retirement income amounts are around $1000-$1200 per month.  Workers reported ??? per month.

I felt a bit sad about the state of affairs in our ‘market-based’ housing market.  The market simply isn’t up to the challenge of providing housing for everyone, and there are insufficient public resources to house everyone.  Our City parks were populated by homeless encampments this summer, and it’s no wonder. Hennepin County reports around 1000 adults in shelters and shelter hotels.  Homeless single adult numbers continue to rise. (Reported homelessness among families and youth has actually decreased.)  I suspect that those 1000 adults mirror our interest list population.

As I called down the list to fill our recent vacancy, I focused on those earning $1000 or more per month since the studio apartment was $459/month.  Yes, you read that correctly; if you’re the lucky one, you can rent a studio apartment for $459/month. Alliance Housing built Hiawatha Commons, Gateway Lofts, and Minnehaha Commons with a strategy that included primarily non-amortizing debt and other public support.  This allows rents sized for adults and families earning 30% of area median income, which is about $21,700 for a single adult and $34,000 for a family of 4.  It’s real estate development the hard way.  Most of what gets built these days, even by nonprofit mission-oriented developers is focused on people earning 50%-60% of area median income so the property can support debt. It makes funding easier to secure, but it prices out those most in need of support.  Alliance focuses all of its real estate development effort on those adults and families who many nonprofit and for-profit developers sidestep.

To my relief, a good number of folks on our list who had income of $1,000 or more had managed to find other housing.  That’s a good thing.

So what do we need to do?  Alliance Housing’s Board of Directors has set an objective to increase our housing portfolio by 35% over the next 3-5 years.  We’ll do our part for those at the bottom end of the income scale and those that traditionally get screened out by other landlords.  We know from multiple studies, from common-sense, and from our experience that people who are housed are able to care for themselves and their families.  Stable housing is a springboard for just about anything positive to happen in one’s life.  The unhoused are more of a drain on public services – hospital emergency rooms, crisis services and public safety.  Hennepin County has made similar conclusions and increased the amount of resources it will dedicate to its high priority clients over the next 10 years.  State Housing Agency plans indicate similar interest.

We simply need all affordable housing capital funders to align and focus resources with the need.  The market will take care of those with more income and options.

Any Donation to Our Expanded Rent Forgiveness Fund Will be Matched by the FS Foundation

Posted on: November 13th, 2020

Since March, Alliance Housing has been able to forgive $1 for every $1 of rent paid by tenants who have lost hours or employment due to COVID or the unrest following the death of George Floyd. The idea of the fund came from Alliance’s staff, who knew that low-wage working adults already had very little margin for recovering from financial setbacks. Getting behind on a month of rent made it nearly impossible to ever catch up. Even though many of our tenants often work multiple part-time jobs, they simply earn too little money to cover basic life obligations.

Alliance was able to take advantage of special COVID and emergency funding opportunities offered by The Constellation Fund, Otto Bremer Trust, and the Minneapolis Foundation’s OneMpls Fund. Individual donors and St. Joan of Arc Partners Program also donated to the cause, providing Alliance Housing just under $30,000 to match tenant rent payments.

We’ve also been given a $30,000 matching funds opportunity by the FS Foundation to increase the rent forgiveness fund and expand it to our larger apartment buildings. The FS Foundation is on a mission to foster independence, self-reliance, pride of craftsmanship, and sense of purpose for under-resourced adults. This matching grant will double your donation to the Alliance Housing Rent Forgiveness Fund and will be a huge relief for tenants who are already living with a lot of stress during these uncertain times.

So far, we’ve assisted 25 households with $17,400 dollars, an average of $695 each ($115 per month). Some tenants have
received multiple matches who are paying smaller amounts over time. As you know, Alliance Housing has always given its
tenants extra time and flexibility in getting caught up with rent during a financial setback.

Felicia and her family have been living in an Alliance duplex since June 2019. Her full-time job at a daycare center is right down the street. When the pandemic brought us lay-offs and stay-at-home orders, her work hours became very sporadic. Recently she’s been getting only 20 to 30 hours per week. Felicia has had the opportunity to get shifts at other daycare franchise locations, but that requires reliable transportation, which until now, she hasn’t needed. Matches for what she can pay makes her feel like she is pulling her own weight despite the reduced hours.


Thomas works at McDonalds. He feels fortunate to still be working at the take-out window. He pays $380 per month for his room. At $12.50 per hour he was able to make ends meet working 30 hours per week. Since the pandemic, his hours have been cut to 10 per week so he now only makes about $500 per month, making paying his rent a heavy lift. He is grateful for the hand up and sleeps better at night with no worries of losing his home.

If you wish to participate in the Rent Forgiveness Fund in collaboration with our generous funders and individual donors, you will be helping hard working people like Thomas and Felicia, keeping them safe in their homes, so they can keep working through these difficult times. Donate using the enclosed envelope or click the “Donate” button on our webpage:
www.alliancehousinginc.org.

A Solar Array Offsets Costs

Posted on: November 13th, 2020
On July 23, 2020, a newly installed solar array began producing power at Minnehaha Commons providing free
electricity for the residents there. The array, installed by Minnesota solar company, Novel Energy Solutions, is expected to produce 50,000 kWh of clean energy per year. That same amount of energy would cost over $5,000 if purchased from the electric utility.
The 39.93 kW project, located at 3001 E. Lake Street in Minneapolis, supports the 44-unit apartment complex that houses individuals aged 55 or older. These individuals are low income and have a history of homelessness. Not only do the residents receive their electricity for free, but the array also produces the equivalence of carbon sequestered by 46 acres of forest each year.
Novel Energy Solutions was founded in 2012 by a fifth-generation, Minnesota family farmer and has grown from a family-run business to be one of Minnesota’s leading providers of solar energy. Novel Energy Solutions takes great pride in this array, as it serves the first housing program aimed at supporting this this population.
Learn more about Novel Energy at www.novelenergy.biz.

Home Provides a Sanctuary During These Unsettled Times

Posted on: November 13th, 2020

Everyone has been affected by the events of this year – the pandemic, civil unrest following the death of George Floyd, economic upheaval, the list goes on. Alliance Housing serves very low-income people who have been hit even harder than many of us. Our older and disabled residents are dealing with social isolation and not being able to gather in public spaces like the library, or even go shopping. Our single and family residents who were making ends meet before the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 are now struggling due to loss of work, or reduction of hours. Or they continue to work, but in jobs that place them in harm’s way, dealing directly with the public or at-risk clients such as in nursing homes, daycares, and takeout windows, while the rest of us are safely working from home or in a controlled office environment. Some hold multiple and temporary jobs, trying to keep afloat. Others sell their plasma or borrow money from family and friends. Some have even pursued getting new jobs during this time, looking for a brighter future.

In 2017, before living in her Alliance duplex, Desiree and her three boys, then aged 8 and 4-year-old twins, lived in a house on the North Side. Her bills were high, and her pay was low. Inevitably, they lost their home, and Desiree and the boys ended up living in her truck for over a month. During that time, one of the twins was hospitalized in the NICU unit for two weeks. Desiree would park her truck, her home, near the hospital to spend time with her son, and hope that the truck would be there when she returned.


On October 1, 2017, a date that is etched in Desiree’s memory, she got a call from Alliance’s property manager Bob Bono. Alliance had a home for her. She couldn’t stop crying. The family moved into their home on 22nd and Upton Avenue North on October 4, 2017. And on October 7th, her son came home from the NICU, not to the truck, but to a real home. The unit is a nice size for her family. They can look out the picture window and get a view of their neighborhood. Desiree has been working at the front desk of a motel for three years. Although she feels lucky to have a job, Desiree is worried about being out in public and being exposed to the virus, and then putting her children at risk. She rides the bus to and from work, about a 35 minute ride each way, and a further risk of exposure to the virus. And even though travel is down due to the virus, her motel is full; full of medical workers isolating from their own families to keep them safe, and full of homeless people, reminding her of her past life before she and her children moved into their Alliance home.

In the spring, Desiree sometimes had to take her children with her to work because there was no where else for them to be since
school was online. Finally she asked her family for help. Her older sister worked with her older 10-year-old, and the father of the
six-year-old twins took on their schooling. This arrangement has continued this school year. Despite the stress of providing for and raising her children during a pandemic, Desiree benefits from knowing that she has a safe and secure home. She admits that she has depression and anger issues, but that she hasn’t “gone off on anyone” since she moved into her Alliance home. She says the organization is a good one for a single mom, and “if you ever get the chance, go to Alliance (Housing).”

 

Our rent matching forgiveness fund offers a hand up. . .

Posted on: November 6th, 2020
Give to the Max Day is Thursday, November 19th. If you’ve already made a donation to Alliance, we are so thankful! We’re using this year’s opportunity to expand our rent match forgiveness fund.
Since March, we’ve matched rent payments, $1 for $1, for 25 tenants who have lost hours or employment due to COVID-19. The average match is $250. We’ve assisted some tenants over multiple months until they found new employment or had hours restored. Some have only needed assistance for 1 month.
Our tenants are low wage earners. Getting even a little behind on rent is a significant financial setback. The rent forgiveness fund enables them to stay current on rent and meet other obligations.
We’ll share a new story about a household that used the rent match forgiveness fund for the next several weeks. The FS Foundation will match anything we raise $1 for $1 in this campaign for an expanded fund.
The FS Foundation is on a mission to foster independence, self-reliance, pride of craftsmanship, and sense of purpose for under-resourced adults. This matching grant will double your donation to the Alliance Housing Rent Forgiveness Fund.
Help us expand our reach and share this information with family, friends and colleagues. To learn more about Alliance Housing, visit our website and our Facebook page.  Simply click the “Donate” button on our website.

Alliance’s work makes it possible for individuals and families to create homes for themselves, regardless of income and background..


Learn More

 

Thank you for your continued support of Alliance Housing!

With much gratitude. . .

Posted on: October 9th, 2020

Thank you to those who joined us virtually on September 24, 2020 for the Alliance Housing Fundraising Breakfast.  We raised just under $90,000.

Mark your calendars now for Alliance Housing’s 2021 30th anniversary fundraising event – September 30th.

There is still time to check out the videos and make a donation.  Here is the website link:

www.alliancehousinginc.org/fundraiser2020/

Questions?  Call Barb at 612-879-7633 or email her at bjeanetta@alliancehousinginc.org

 

In this year of pandemic, we hosted our Annual Fundraising Breakfast a bit differently. . . .

Posted on: September 4th, 2020

There wasn’t be the lively company of our friends, colleagues and family nor pastry, coffee and fruit. . .

but there was:

  • Videos of two tenants; Robert & Lisa
  • Video of Barb Jeanetta with an overview of Alliance & snapshot of what’s underway
  • Video of Rose Carr from The Constellation Fund saying why they invested in Alliance
  • A list of our event sponsors

And of course, instructions on several ways to donate to Alliance Housing.

  • Click the donate button on this page
  • Mail us a check (address below)
  • Call Barb with credit card info.

Thank you to those of you who joined us and made a gift.  If you’d still like to see the videos or make a donation, there is still time:  www.alliancehousinginc.org/fundraiser2020/

Questions?  Call Barb at 612-879-7633 or email her at bjeanetta@alliancehousinginc.org

Save the date: Alliance’s annual fundraising breakfast

Posted on: June 26th, 2020

As more details of the pandemic have evolved, our Board of Directors has determined that it is highly unlikely a gathering of 250 people in September is realistic.  Because the Breakfast is a key fundraising tool for Alliance, we’ve decided to adapt and host a virtual event.

We plan to email a link to videos with messages from our tenants, board, funder, and myself that will launch on September 24th.  It will be accessible for about a week, allowing more flexibility than a breakfast event to our virtual guests.  We’ll ask for their support through an online donation or other means.  We plan to gather again in 2021 to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

The Kenwood Residents Meet Minnehaha Commons Residents

Posted on: April 6th, 2020

On a recent wintry day, residents from the Kenwood Retirement Community visited Alliance’s Minnehaha
Commons. The Kenwood residents brought many products of their labor – hand-knit scarves, hats, and
dishcloths, and a handmade fleece pillow for each of the 44 residents. The four Kenwood visitors were part of a
larger group of 18 volunteers who have been hand-making gifts for the past six months. Minnehaha
Commons hosts welcomed their visitors with smiles, words of thanks, and a tour of one of the apartments.
Both groups of residents had a chance to chat and share some snacks. All over age 55, the two groups were
overheard to share tips of aging well. The Kenwood visitors went back home with a feeling of a job well done,
and happiness to see that the Minnehaha Commons residents now have safe and comfortable homes. And the
Minnehaha Commons residents enjoyed the company, treats and were pleased with their colorful and practical
hand-made gifts.

Mosaic Memorial Planned for Minnehaha Commons

Posted on: April 6th, 2020

This spring, Minnehaha Commons residents, staff, and community members will be creating a mosaic in memory of the six people who
perished in a fire on the site on April 2nd, 2010. Ann Gervais, her son Andrew Gervais, his three children Colton Gervais, and twins Austin and Aliciah Gervais-Hjellming planned to stay in an apartment above McMahon’s Pub with family friend Ryan Richner. They had nowhere else to stay that night.

Spearheaded by mosaic artist Lori Greene of Mosaic on a Stick, the group will be working together to make an artwork in tribute to all those who have been fragilely housed. When asked why so many of her mosaic installations are memorials, Greene reflected that mosaics are “broken” pieces of glass and tile, and that the people who are making the memorials have often been broken by their experiences. Minnehaha
Commons resident Charles Tolliver pointed out that crafting the mosaic is a step toward putting lives back together, and healing, not only for the community and family members but also for the residents of Minnehaha Commons, who have themselves been homeless in the past. Funding for the mosaic will be provided by Alliance Housing, Inc., and Touchstone Mental Health. Residents will also have the opportunity to make a trivet for their apartment. The memorial mosaic will be installed in the common area of Minnehaha Commons.

Tenants Active in Homeless Day on the Hill 2020

Posted on: April 6th, 2020

Alliance Housing’s policy advocacy work is primarily carried out through a variety of coalitions. Alliance is a member of The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. The organization is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public policy and advocacy organization that works
to ensure statewide housing stability and economic security. The Coalition works with those experiencing housing instability in partnership with over 120 members across the state. These members range from those who work across the housing continuum
in direct service, to state agencies in public policy.

Each year the Coalition hosts “Homeless Day on the Hill” gathering its members and individuals who have experienced homelessness to advocate for additional housing resources at the Minnesota Legislature. The day starts with some training and a rally
and then teams of participants head off to the Capitol to meet with Senators and Representatives for the neighborhoods where they live.

Alliance has participated in the Homeless Day on the Hill most years and has engaged tenants to join in. Barb noted, “tenant participants
are always tentative at first but once engaged they feel pretty important and powerful about their ability to access elected officials.”

There is a lot at stake this year with the Governor’s proposal for $200 million in housing infrastructure bonds and other affordable
housing resources and tenant protections. The Homes for All MN coalition is asking for $500 million in bonds for housing, $15 million for
the emergency services program and $50 million to expand and preserve emergency shelter beds. Please help us by talking to your
legislative representatives about supporting increased resources for affordable housing. Let’s go big so everyone can go home!

Succession Planning for Alliance Property Manager

Posted on: April 6th, 2020

You’ve heard us talking about Bob Bono, our 20+ year property manager and “secret sauce” to
our 2nd chance housing, relational property management operations. Bob is starting to think
about retiring in the next 1-3 years. Alliance is implementing a succession plan for him by
hiring a part-time property manager to train in over the next year to learn the “Alliance way.”

Alliance’s property management begins with low barrier screening that gives adults and
families a 2nd chance to access stable, quality housing despite a background that may include
evictions, poor credit, criminal convictions, or high rent to income ratios. Alliance has
operated housing with this philosophy for the past 25+ years.

Alliance’s tenants often have incomes at or below 30% of area median income. People living
on this level of income are adept at managing occasional set-backs – a car break down, large
medical bills, or assistance to a family member. They simply need some flexibility with rent
payments to remain stably housed. Alliance’s property management is flexible and negotiates
rent payment plans with all tenants who need one.

This management style is unique among property managers – even other nonprofit organizations. It’s not taught in a book or a
class. In its succession planning, Alliance is looking for candidates with a strong foundation in tenant/landlord relations and law.
Combined with the necessary on-the-job training, Alliance looks forward to successfully sustaining its 2nd chance, relational
property management operation past the retirement of our dedicated, long-time employee, Bob.

Working Hard to Make Ends Meet; Alliance Tenants’ Jobs are Often the Backbone to Our Economy

Posted on: April 6th, 2020

Alliance Housing has always focused its rental portfolio on those with the lowest income. In addition to its rooming houses which
are home to many extremely low-income adults on a fixed income, family housing rent levels provide an option for low wage workers
earning $10-$15/hour. These individuals are being priced out of the market, yet the positions they hold are critical in the metro area
economy and reflect positions with high projected growth rates. Alliance’s housing anchors affordability in Minneapolis
neighborhoods close to jobs and good transit. Most tenants can afford Alliance’s apartments without additional (and almost
nonexistent) rent subsidies.

Jessica, Keisha, and Krystal have all benefitted through the years by living in Alliance Housing properties. They are all single mothers.
They each work more than full-time to provide for their families. And the road would have been a lot tougher without the affordable
rent Alliance Housing charges.

Jessica is a graduate of Alliance’s Northside Supportive Housing for Families. Although the program no longer exists, Jessica’s success
is a testament to the value of the program, and the importance of affordable housing for low-wage workers. Jessica and her two sons
ended up homeless in 2013 and stayed at several shelters, and the recently demolished Drake Hotel. In August 2014, Jessica found
Alliance Housing. At the time, she did not have a lot of work experience. Through the help of a job counselor, hard work, and
determination, Jessica’s wages grew from her starting wage of $8.60 an hour. She was also able to find full-time work. Today, after
many job changes, and always increasing her job responsibilities, Jessica is now proudly earning $17.50 an hour, and can work from
home, which is even better for her family. When Jessica left her Alliance home, she was paying about $10,000 a year in rent.
According to the Living Wage Calculator for Hennepin County*, the typical rent expense is about $14,000 a year. So Jessica was able
to spend the extra $4,000 on other necessities, and even save some for the future, enabling her to move out of Alliance Housing in
2016. Since that time, she and her boys have lived in the same privately-owned apartment. They are all stable and thriving.

Keisha also pays about $10,000 in rent per year for her Alliance home in North Minneapolis. According to the same calculator*, the
typical housing expense for her family would be almost $20,000 per year. She is learning to save some of that “extra” money that she doesn’t have to spend on rent and feels proud that she is being responsible. Keisha and her three children, a boy and two girls, moved in December 2016. At that point, she paid 37% of her income towards rent. She managed but it left little room for unplanned expenses.

Alliance Housing property manager, Bob Bono, has often noted, “how hard Keisha works and how dedicated she is to managing her household and overall budget.” Since January 2017 Keisha has been working at Sunrise Senior Living. She started out working at the bottom of the employment rung and has moved up to being Lead Care Manager. Her current rent is now 24% of her income, allowing her a little breathing room.

She loves her job, relishing working with others, solving problems, and the opportunity to move up in her career. She works as much as she can to get ahead and not have to live paycheck to paycheck. The elderly residents often ask her “Are you still here?” after seeing her in the morning, in the afternoon, and the evening. Her job is just a few minutes from her apartment, and the children go to school across the street from each other, about a 10-minute drive from home.

Keisha recently accidentally became a Girl Scout leader. She was excited for her oldest daughter to join, and in the flurry of paperwork,
unwittingly signed up to be a leader. She came with her daughter to the first meeting of the troop and someone said, “This is your
troop.” Looking at all those little faces Keisha said, “I couldn’t back down.” She is proud of her troop. “They are so tiny, but they can
learn. We are teaching them the Girl Scout Promise, The Girl Scout Law, and Girl Scout songs. They love it.”

Like Keisha and Jessica, Krystal is a proud mom. When she originally moved to the Twin Cities from St. Louis, she and her son lived
in Richfield. Even though they now live in an Alliance Housing apartment in south Minneapolis, Krystal drives her 14-year-old son to
school each day, so he can experience the stability of staying with his friends in the same school. She was happy to find her apartment
in Powderhorn because she could reduce her rent payments to only 30% of her income at the time.

Krystal loves cooking and exploring different cuisines. Currently, Krystal works two jobs as a cook. She can’t get enough hours at either job to be full time and does not have benefits. She typically works 6 or 7 days a week, with a double shift on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Krystal spent her first day off in 23 days being interviewed for this article.

Despite working a lot, Krystal wants even more hours because her main goal is financial stability. With an increased income, she currently pays 20% of her income towards rent giving her a little breathing room to pay off debt due to a car accident, car repair bills and student loans.

Through it all, the staff at Alliance have been understanding, and as Krystal put it “resourcefully helpful.” Property manager Bob Bono has put her in touch with other organizations that can help Krystal move forward. She explained “most people I’ve met in my
life haven’t been as understanding,” and added that she tries “to take good advice.” With her experience in food service, she dreams of having her own catering business or a bakery. Like Jessica and Keisha, the money she can save through Alliance’s lower rents will help her achieve her dreams.

Our working tenants will be some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re preparing to be even more lenient on rent than we usually are. We’ll negotiate payment plans with tenants that lost hours due to business closings or having to care for school-age children. We know you, our donors, wouldn’t want it any other way.

Virus Effects on Alliance Housing

Posted on: March 27th, 2020

Thank you to all of you who have reached out to ask how Alliance Housing is weathering the effects of the COVID-19 virus.  The short answer is “we’re doing business nearly as normal.”  Turns out it’s pretty difficult to fix a toilet or get a furnace running while working virtually.  Those of us who are more office-based are still reporting to work.  Property management in our world is highly paper and file intensive.  Most of those things don’t exist in digital platforms.  Our office is small.  We have our own space and are all happy to report to work.

 

The real heroes are Raymond, Craig, Michael and Bob – our caretakers, maintenance and property management staff.  They continue to visit tenant homes and building common space to clean, repair and collect rent.  They are aware of and practice good hygiene practices.  Everyone’s hands are ready to crumble off with extra hand washing.  We all healthy and will not endanger tenant’s health if and when we have signs of being ill.

 

Our real worries are for our tenants.  Forty three percent of our tenants work – primarily parttime and low wage hourly ($10-$15) jobs.  Others receive social security, disability or some other sort of rent support.  They will be less affected.  We’re assessing the damage but know many of them have already been laid off or lost hours.  We’ve always been in the business of accepting late rent payments and negotiating payment plans.  Now will be no different.  It just may be delayed a bit longer.  Worst case scenario, if 100% of working tenants paid no rent, it amounts to about $25,000 per month.  Fortunately, we can weather that for a few months.

 

If you want to help, we are contemplating a fund that could eventually forgive $1 of rent for each $1 of rent paid.  We think this will help immensely because families will be so far behind if they are out of work for 2 or more months, it will be nearly impossible for them ever to catch up.  They simply don’t earn sufficient income to ever get ahead.  As foundation funds are made available or additional gifts are received from donors through June, we’ll seed and create the fund.

 

As always, if you have other questions or suggestions, please call or email me at 612-879-7633 or bjeanetta@alliancehousinginc.org.

Bridging the Gap for Low-Income Residents

Posted on: November 27th, 2019

Once a person moves into their Alliance home, they often don’t have some basic necessities. If they were homeless, they’ve lost or had to leave behind things like bedding and housewares. Bridging MN has started a pilot program to address the issue of smaller necessities. Mary Resemius, Housing Operations Assistant at Alliance toured the Bridging warehouse and saw the program as a great way to move Alliance Housing residents forward on the path of future independence. Mary seeded the program by donating money to fund over a dozen shopping sprees for single residents for a year. Mary explained that because many of our residents live in single-room occupancy units, and efficiencies, they do not need a full house of stuff. This program will fill a need, which Mary saw, and stepped forward to fill.

 

Home Book Launch Benefits Alliance Housing

Posted on: November 27th, 2019

Over 100 people packed the auditorium at Open Book on October 16th to hear a dozen authors read from Home: An Anthology, exploring the concept of what home means to each of us. Readings ranged from comic to tragic, and all were heartfelt. Executive Director Barbara Jeanetta kicked off the standing-room-only event by thanking the publisher and authors, all of whom donated their work to make the anthology happen. All profits from book sales go to Alliance Housing, Inc. Copies of the book may be ordered from Amazon or at your local bookstore. https://www.flexiblepub.com/home-anthology

Policy Advocacy Gets Action

Posted on: November 27th, 2019

Sometimes the affordable housing crisis seems so big and overwhelming, people shrink from solutions.  The tenant-landlord relationship has always been balanced in favor of the landlord and many tenants feel powerless to change it.  The need for affordable housing far outstrips public resources despite efforts of the City, State, and County to increase financing programs.

 

Over the past couple of years, Alliance has stepped into the policy arena with other housing advocates, developers, and tenants.  In September, after months of study and public comment, the City Council adopted two tenant protection measures. The first limits how far back landlords can look into a prospective tenant’s background. In the past, many tenants have been screened out of other landlord’s housing because of past criminal background. Alliance Housing has learned, and studies support this finding, that after a few years, screening out these tenants does not make sense. They are no more likely to re-offend, or be a poor tenant, than people without a criminal background. The second protection measure is to limit the dollar amount landlords can charge for security deposits.  Alliance and others were active in organizing support for these ordinances.

 

Also during 2019, Make Homes Happen MPLS (MHH) successfully influenced the Mayor to continue resources for affordable housing in the 2020 budget.  The Mayor has proposed a plan to provide $50M of local funds to the Housing Trust Fund over an eight-year period.  This is the first step in establishing an ongoing, dedicated affordable housing resource for the City.  Alliance is a member of MHH, and its tenants have talked with the Mayor and City Councilmembers, and plan to be at the public hearings on the budget.

Policy and communication efforts are essential to increase the supply of housing & effect change on issues important to the well-being of tenants.


Learn More

 

Seven Alliance Tenants Move to Bigger Digs

Posted on: November 27th, 2019

Most people, as they age, would appreciate a few more conveniences and comfort:  an elevator, help with chores, or maybe just peace and quiet.  Alliance Housing’s aging rooming house tenants were motivation to pursue funding to build a place where they could find these amenities.  We also learned that the only portion of the homeless population that was growing (and had tripled in the last 12 years) was older adults. The streets and shelters are no place to call home when you’re over 55 years old.  Homeless older adults are more vulnerable to thefts and homelessness is harder on their health.

 

Minnehaha Commons, Alliance’s newest property, is designed for singles, ages 55 and older, who have experienced long-term homelessness. Seven of the forty-four studio apartments are designated for people who are already residents in Alliance Housing, and they were the first to move in.  Tom and Ed are settling into their new homes and agreed to share their stories.

 

Tom, age 79, has spent most of his life adapting to new surroundings. He was sent to reform school when he was nine. After being there a while, he ran away and lived life on the streets before getting locked up in prison for a felony charge. He then spent most of his young adult years adapting to the culture of prison life.

 

Tom also lived in his car for three years, before moving into Alliance’s rooming house in January of 2015. The rooming house gave Tom a roof over his head, an address to receive mail, and a place to call home.

But the rooming house was becoming very difficult for Tom as he grew older. As he said, “I love cooking, but I hate having to go down to the basement (at the rooming house) and stay down there while it’s cooking. You couldn’t do anything but stay down there the whole time you’re cooking. Now I’ll be able to throw something in the oven and hop in the shower.” In addition to making the basic act of feeding himself far more convenient, Minnehaha Commons has an elevator that will allow Tom to easily get to his third floor home without the pain of stairs. He’s also excited to be able to finally watch each of the 41 channels his TV allows, all while enjoying his signature Southern biscuits and gravy. He is already adapting to his new, Alliance home.

 

Originally from California, Ed, now 62, moved to Minnesota with his wife and children in 1989. After he and his wife divorced, Ed spent the next 17 years living with friends but mostly living on the streets and in various shelters. Then in 2013, Ed was hit by a delivery truck, which crushed his right foot. At the time of the accident, Ed was under the influence and therefore unable to file an insurance claim. Swamped with hospital bills, Ed was sent to a nursing home to recover for four months. Since 2016, Ed has lived at the Alliance rooming house. His apartment was on the first floor, so somewhat more accessible than Tom’s, but he still had to go up and downstairs to make a meal, and down the hall to go to the bathroom. He is very happy to now have his own bathroom and kitchen at Minnehaha Commons.

 

In addition to the devastating injury to his foot, Ed also suffers from bone spurs, a hereditary disease that causes him to experience extreme joint pain. And Ed has had two major shoulder surgeries. His doctor tells him that before long, he’ll need a wheelchair. Fortunately, Minnehaha Commons provides Ed and other residents the accessibility and convenience he will need as he ages. His bathroom has a walk-in shower, which can also accommodate a wheelchair, and many grab-bars. The height of his bed is adjustable, ready to change as his needs change. And all the apartments are fully furnished. Ed is excited to personalize his new home to fulfill his needs.

 

We look forward to seeing Tom, Ed and others create a home for themselves in a new community.  Touchstone Mental Health staff is on-site to assist with health and personal needs that can help build stability and well-being.  As it is often said, it takes a village and Touchstone has become a valuable part of the Alliance village.

We’ll Miss You Audrey!

Posted on: September 11th, 2019

In September, our long-time Tenant Support Coordinator, Audrey Preston will be leaving, after 15 years working at Alliance. Before joining the Alliance team, Audrey worked for 16 years with homeless adult programs at St. Stephens Human Services, making her a perfect fit for the Alliance job. She came to the work from the “school of hard knocks” – having gone gotten sober and stable from years of addiction and all the problems it brings.

In her most recent work with residents at our 2011 Pillsbury property, Audrey practiced relational management every time she walked through the door. Most of the residents are older, retired, and often isolated. Audrey would check in, offer her signature good humor and words of encouragement, and send people on their way with a better outlook because someone cared to ask after them. She helped residents connect with agencies and programs in the community as well as remembering birthdays and other important life events.  Audrey always made sure the building was running smoothly and would alert property manager and his team if anything needed attention. Audrey will be missed. The bond that residents have with her is clear – hugs and handshakes all around. 

Local publisher to benefit Alliance Housing

Posted on: January 22nd, 2019

“Home” is the theme of an anthology in development by a Twin Cities author and publisher, William Burleson, with all proceeds of the book earmarked for Alliance Housing. “When planning this new project, supporting Alliance was simply a no-brainer,” says Burleson. “I think Alliance’s approach to empowering people and building communities is exactly what excites me, and everyone involved in Flexible Press.”

Burleson is still on the lookout for short fiction, poetry, and essays connected to Minnesota and exploring what home means to each of us. “We want to help emerging authors have their voices heard, especially those who too often have not had a voice,” adds Burleson. Flexible Press continues to take submissions until May 15, 2019. More information can be found at www.flexiblepub.com.

The mission of Flexible Press “is to support authors, communities, and mission-driven non-profits through story.” Home is planned be the fourth book and second anthology from Flexible Press. In the fall of 2018, Lake Street Stories was released with 12 stories focused on the iconic South Minneapolis thoroughfare, with all profits going to CLUES.

Video Highlights Alliance Tenant

Posted on: November 6th, 2018

Construction on Minnehaha Commons is recently underway.  As noted before, the property will be home to 44 adults, aged 55 years or older with a history of homelessness.  Older adults are a rapidly expanding portion of the homeless singles living in shelters in the community. In 2009, 11% of those who stayed overnight in shelters in Hennepin County were over 55. By 2015 that percentage had doubled. Given the demographic trends regarding the aging of the population as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, it is inevitable that the problem will continue to grow.

The staff and leadership of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) responded to Alliance’s very early questions about resources to house older adults who had experienced homelessness.  An early investment of DHS Live Well at Home funds (LWAH), was a catalyst investment and leverage for other public resources.

This video was produced as part of the 2017 LWAH grant award program.  Alliance Housing’s tenant, Pat Straw, is featured along with other older adults who also have experienced homelessness.  Their stories highlight some of the challenges of finding and keeping affordable housing by older adults.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQR1ACsEDok

Alliance Housing’s Local and Statewide Wins

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

In spite of the brutal heat, Alliance Housing has had an incredibly productive summer. We are elated to share the major political gains that Alliance and our fellow housing nonprofits and advocates made this season!

In the past several months, we have become increasingly involved in Make Homes Happen, a coalition of nonprofits, congregations, neighborhood associations, and of course individual housing advocates like you. Make Homes Happen has been pushing Mayor Jacob Frey and City Council to allocate $50 million dollars in an affordable housing trust fund (AHTF) for the next 10 years in order to address the growing housing crisis in Minneapolis. While our goals were not met in full, Mayor Frey has chosen to invest nearly $40 million dollars into affordable housing for 2019, with state and federal funds bringing the total to $50 million. While our target of $50 million was met, Frey has described this funding as a “one-time infusion” rather than a dedicated stream for 10 years. That said, Make Homes Happen is dedicated will remain steady in our demands until they are met. We are ecstatic to have a mayor that is receptive to our cause and Alliance is looking forward to moving Minneapolis forward in partnership with Make Homes Happen!

The victories for Alliance and the Twin Cities’ many housing advocates have, however, extended well beyond Minneapolis’ borders. On August 21st, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton released the final report for his housing task force. The report included 30 recommendations, including calling for stricter protections for tenants facing eviction and loosening screening requirements that unfairly discriminate against people of color, both of which echo Alliance’s mission of providing flexible, relational, and just housing. Section 5 of the report also highlights the increasing need to “build stronger links between where we live and the services we need to live stable lives” and emphasizes that people living with disabilities, particularly those experiencing homelessness, must live in an integrated setting and have a person-centered plan for overall wellness. The same philosophy underpins Alliance’s partnership with Touchstone Mental Health for Minnehaha Commons: with the proportion of homeless seniors growing, we must allow these people to age in place by consolidating medical services and housing at an integrated yet quiet location in close proximity to a high-frequency bus route as well as the Blue Line.

Overall, the final report reflects a deep understanding of the meaning of housing, citing a secure housing situation as the cornerstone for increased wages, higher academic achievements, and improved health. However, we cannot be complacent with the progress we have made. A Dayton’s term comes to an end, we need to ensure that our next governor will continue to make strides towards housing justice. We urge our supporters to stay informed on housing issues, particularly as they relate to the upcoming gubernatorial election. Homes for All MN will hold a Gubernatorial Forum in Duluth on September 12th at which Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz will discuss their vision for affordable housing in the state of Minnesota. If you are unable to attend, there will be significant media coverage on the event as well as a Homes For All MN Tweetchat on 9/5 from 11AM to 12PM to engage with the candidates and build visibility for our cause.

Thank you for your continuing support for Alliance Housing as we continue to fight for affordable housing!

Ryan Cirillo, Management Intern
rcirillo@alliancehousinginc.org
612-870-2264

Groundbreaking on Project to House 44 Elderly Adults Scheduled for September 13th

Posted on: June 20th, 2018

By fall of 2019, 44 adults, 55 years old or older will call Minnehaha Commons at 3001 E. Lake Street, home. All residents will be very low income; most will have experienced homelessness and may have been screened out by other landlords due to their housing, credit or criminal history. Alliance Housing owns and/or manages similar properties in South and North Minneapolis. The properties are an asset to the tenants, the surrounding neighbors, and our community at large.

Alliance’s partner, Touchstone Mental Health, will provide a range of support services to ensure tenants can remain stably housed. Cermak Rhoades Architects managed the project design. General Contractors are Watson Forsberg in partnership with TRI Construction. Broen Housing provided real estate development consulting. The Longfellow Community Council, Councilmember Cam Gordon, and Representative Jim Davnie welcomed the project to the neighborhood and provided letters of support.

“According to the Wilder Foundation’s 2015 homeless survey, seniors are the fastest growing segment of homeless people locally,” said Alliance Housing Inc. Executive Director, Barbara Jeanetta. “Alliance Housing was ahead of the curve when we conceived this project more than ten years ago. Our organization is uniquely positioned to successfully house this population because of our previous experience serving seniors in our rooming houses.” Jeanetta continued, “Our tenant service coordinators and property managers build trusting relationships with tenants, discuss problems, identify options for maintaining housing stability and increasing self-sufficiency, and assist tenants to choose their community services. It is a proven program, and we look forward to bringing this exciting new development and its related support services to serve seniors in south Minneapolis.”

Construction will begin in September 2018. To celebrate, Alliance Housing is hosting a groundbreaking event on Thursday, September 13th at 4 p.m. on the site. Invited and/or confirmed guests include the Commissioner of DHS, Emily Piper, and Councilmember Cam Gordon. A neighborhood historian will eulogize the homeless family that lost their lives when the McMahon Bar, the site of the new building, burned. And Alliance’s board chair, Ben Olk II, a Longfellow Community Council board member, and a potential future tenant of the property are also anticipated to be part of the program. The $10.8 million development is expected to be completed and fully leased by September 2019.

Funding for the project was provided by a variety of sources including a State of Minnesota Department of Human Services Live Well at Home grant, Minnesota Housing’s Housing Infrastructure Bonds and 4% tax credits. The City of Minneapolis’ Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Hennepin County’s Affordable Housing Incentive Fund, the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities Local Housing Incentives Account, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines’s Affordable Housing Program also provided financial support. Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Thrivent, and the Sisters of Carondelet provided early acquisition and predevelopment support.

ABOUT ALLIANCE HOUSING, INC: Alliance’s work makes it possible for individuals and families to create homes for themselves, regardless of income and background by developing and managing housing that is: inclusive, affordable, relational, and, flexible. In addition, Alliance Housing challenges the environment that limits its residents’ opportunities. Neighbors and tenants alike say Alliance’s properties are the “best on the block.” For more information visit AllianceHousingInc.org.

Round-up for Alliance Housing

Posted on: May 11th, 2018

Alliance is on board with Homes for All MN

Posted on: March 15th, 2018

Where we live impacts every aspect of our lives; the jobs we can access, the education our children receive and the wellbeing of our growing senior population.  One’s income and history of credit, housing and convictions effects where we live further – and for some is the reason for their homelessness.

Alliance Housing is one of some 170 organizations who have banded together to ensure:

  • There are homes for all stages in life,
  • To allow workers to be more productive and businesses to thrive,
  • And enable students to achieve in school.

Together, with a similar message, we’ll advocate for $140 million in bonds to create supportive rental housing, preserve housing with existing federal investments, promote homeownership through community land trusts and make improvements to the state’s public housing.

It is these type of bonds that are the basis of funding for Minnehaha Commons – Alliance’s project for adults over 55 years old with a history of homelessness.  While we won’t directly benefit from any new appropriation in the next year, we know from talking to people every day and for the 300 some adults and families on our “interest list” that there is a pressing need for more housing options today.   It also gives us a network to continue to influence unreasonable screening criteria and get more property owners back to the business of housing people.

Learn more at www.homesforallmn.org.  Follow the work on Twitter @Homes4AllMN.

Will the new tax bill affect Alliance’s donors?

Posted on: March 15th, 2018

The answer is a solid “depends.”

Some of our donors have told us that tax benefits didn’t drive their past gifts.  To others, it is important.  The tax overhaul passed at the end of 2017 changed a number of provisions that may or may not effect our donor’s charitable giving.  The standard deduction taxpayers are now allowed to take, without itemizing is $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for couples.  This larger standard deduction may remove the incentive to make charitable donations and itemize one’s deductions for a tax benefit.

Most of the other changes to the estate tax and limits on cash gifts are frankly not an issue for nearly all of the Alliance Housing current donors.  Donor Advised funds have gotten more popular and were unchanged.

Got advice for us?  We’re all ears.  Please email or call Barb Jeanetta at bjeanetta@alliancehousinginc.org or 612-879-7633.

The Power of Second Chances

Posted on: December 27th, 2017

It’s hard to believe that Patrick ever had a first chance. At the Alliance Breakfast in 2016 he shared the story of his life. He grew up in a family of drug abusers as role models. When he became an adult, he himself predictably struggled with drugs, addiction, and homelessness. He was fortunate to enter Alliance Housing in August of 2015, living at 2011 Pillsbury. Living there, he could save some money, due to the low rent. Eventually, about a year ago, Patrick moved from 2011 Pillsbury to his own Alliance studio apartment.
We caught up with Patrick recently, to see how life is going now that he has a studio apartment. Although he had use of the kitchen facilities at 2011 Pillsbury, there was no convenient storage for his food. Patrick lived on the third floor, and after a long day of work, he was too tired to go up and down the stairs to make dinner. Hence, Patrick had been “eating out every single meal”, which isn’t healthy, and is very expensive. He would generally wake up and leave for work, and just come home to sleep.
Now that Patrick has his own kitchen, he proudly stocks his fridge, cooks in large quantities and stashes the leftovers for the future. Sometimes he even brings his homemade lunch to work. He relishes the sense of independence he gets from taking care of this basic need for himself. He eats out far less, and when he does, thinks of it as a luxury, not a necessity.
What has Patrick done with the money he has saved by not eating takeout for every meal?
One of the reasons for Patrick’s homelessness in the first place was addiction, caused by trying to find a way to soothe his chronic back pain. Now, with the money he saves by eating at home more often, Patrick can afford massages. So instead of self-medicating with illegal drugs, Patrick is using massage to treat his chronic pain.
Also, one of Patrick’s passions is music. He plays guitar, bass, piano, and drums. And he sings. Until recently, however, he was distracted by his own “horrible singing.” With the money he is saving by eating at home, Patrick is taking singing lessons. He uses the words “spiritual” and “edifying” to describe how it feels to find his own, better voice.
All this from simply being able to prepare his own food in his own Alliance home.

New on-line donation software takes smaller bite out of your donation

Posted on: December 14th, 2017

Alliance’s new on-line donation option, Vanco, charges 2.75% to process a credit card gift. This is a significant savings over the 6.9% our former processor charged. Please let us know if your experience is positive with this change. Thanks!

2017 Gift?

Posted on: December 14th, 2017

2011-Pillsbury_750If you have already made a gift to Alliance Housing in 2017, thank you. Your investment enables Alliance Housing to:
• Keep our rents affordable to low wage workers.
• Support services helping families exit poverty and avoid future homelessness.
• Keep our properties “the best on the block.”

If you haven’t, you can donate on-line here >
or by mailing us a check.
If you’re feeling extra grateful this year, consider assisting us by investing in the renovation of community space at our rooming house at 2011 Pillsbury. Pillsbury is home to 27 low income single adults, most who have experienced homelessness and other barriers to finding housing. 65% of residents are over the age of 55. To further accommodate resident gatherings and mitigate isolation, Alliance would like to renovate the basement space by updating the shared kitchen, adding a TV/game lounge and generally making the area feel a little more homey.
We’ve raised 43% of the $75,000 needed. The U of MN School of Architecture offered pro-bono design, retirees from IBEW (electricians) have committed their time and Alliance has socked away the rest. If you’d like to support community at 2011 Pillsbury, please consider a year-end designated gift.

100% of funds secured to build 43 studios for homeless adults

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017

Alliance Housing Fully Funded for Minnehaha Commons Project

43 units of affordable housing will be constructed for extremely low-income seniors.

Minneapolis, October 31, 2017:  Minnesota Housing announced on October 17th that $126 million will be invested in affordable housing across the state. Alliance Housing received $5,146,302 in deferred funds for Minnehaha Commons to be located on Lake Street in Minneapolis. With this award, the project is now fully funded. Other funders include the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and private investors. Minnehaha Commons will provide 43 units of affordable housing, in partnership with Touchstone Mental Health, for extremely low-income seniors who have experienced homelessness.

According to the Wilder Foundation’s homeless survey, seniors are the fastest growing segment of homeless people. Alliance Housing is uniquely positioned to successfully house this population because of its previous experience serving seniors in rooming houses. Alliance’s tenant service coordinators and property managers build trusting relationships with tenants, discuss problems, identify options for maintaining housing stability and increasing self-sufficiency, and assist tenants to choose their community services.

Alliance Housing’s model offers a solution for housing stability for people who are traditionally denied housing opportunities because of their low-income, poor rental and criminal histories, and/or a history of homelessness. Homeless studies show that many homeless people also experience mental health symptoms. Supportive services designed to successfully house this population will be offered at Minnehaha Commons by Touchstone Mental Health through supports that utilize best practices, address underlying mental health conditions, and support whole person wellness and self-sufficiency.

Alliance’s work makes it possible for individuals and families to create homes for themselves, regardless of income and background by developing and managing housing that is: inclusive, affordable, relational, and, flexible. In addition, Alliance Housing challenges the environment that limits its residents’ opportunities. Neighbors and tenants alike say Alliance’s properties are the “best on the block.”

Alliance Housing’s 2017 Annual Fundraising Breakfast

Posted on: June 30th, 2017

Crowd shot resizedThanks to those of you who joined us for the 2017 Alliance Housing’s Annual Fundraising Breakfast on Sept. 28th.  Our guests, sponsors and donors helped us raise nearly $80,000 to support our work.  Pat, 2011 Pillsbury resident, shared how Alliance helped him when he was homeless and again after his stroke.  Until his stroke, Pat worked hard at D’Amico catering and helped refer other tenants to jobs.  Gloria, former tenant and Northside Supportive Housing for Families participant, shared her successes with Sue Roedl’s suport – a GED, increasing wages, better credit, training and now homeownership.  Gloria accomplished this as a single Mom of 5 kids.  Amazing!

 

Houses History & Hope – A benefit for Alliance Housing Inc.

Posted on: April 11th, 2017

Ben at Cream of Wheat houseAlliance Housing’s board chair hosted two walking tours around Lake of the Isles on May 14 and June 25th. 40-50 people joined us both days to learn more about the history of Minneapolis and its parks. A former history teacher, Olk shared stories and details about some of the stately houses around the lake. He talked about the people who designed, built and originally lived in them. In addition to these impressive homes, Olk also discussed how Minneapolis and its citizens have responded to the housing needs of those who are less fortunate. Guests also learned about Alliance Housing who has been creating housing alternatives for people in poverty and those on the margins for more than 25 years. Alliance makes it possible for individuals and families to create homes for themselves, regardless of income and background, by developing and managing housing that is inclusive, affordable, and relationship-based.
If you are interested in future tours feel free to contact Barb @ bjeanetta@alliancehousinginc.org or 612-879-7633.

Seven men share one common story of a second chance.

Posted on: December 1st, 2016

By Tessa Williams.

For the men living at our Fremont property, finding a safe, affordable place to live has never been easy. Seven of our residents here came to us through Better Futures (Better Futures is an immersive program that gives men who have experienced prison, poverty, homelessness and untreated disabilities the training and resources they need to become independent). These men are now enjoying having their own apartment for the first time in their lives. I sat down with three residents, JT, Greg and Michael, to hear what having their own apartment means to them. Their responses shared common themes of safety, peace and quiet, freedom, pride and dignity.
“There’s a yearn for privacy, especially as you get older and start to get to know yourself,” says JT, now 40 years old. Growing up, he says, “I never had my own bedroom and at times had no bedroom.” For JT, having his own apartment gives him a sense of peace and tranquility. “You can come home to a safe space to be by yourself after a long day… You have the ability to relax and decorate your apartment and let it mean something to you.” JT’s previous living situations give him a strong appreciation for a safe, peaceful environment. In one place he lived after prison, he paid rent for six month but estimates that he didn’t sleep in his room for more than three nights because it didn’t feel safe. In another, he paid a woman with a cocaine addiction about $300 a month to live in what he called “a closet.” For men of color with a criminal record like JT, rental screening for safe housing so often forces them into dangerous housing situations, often in the same environment that got them in trouble in the first place.
Greg also mentioned peace and quiet as one of the positives in living at Fremont. He says having his own apartment makes it easier to focus on school. In June, Greg completed an associate’s degree in culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. By February, he will also have an associate’s degree in pastry. The other men at Fremont love that Greg is studying pastry because he frequently brings home sweets to share with them. Right now he’s doing an externship at Cookie Cart, a nonprofit bakery in North Minneapolis. Greg also enjoys having his own key to the building and the dignity of being able to come and go as he pleases without a curfew. At 53 years old, Greg doesn’t like to stay out late, but he still appreciates the freedom to set his own schedule.
Just down the hall, Michael says having his own room gives him more flexibility when looking for work. When he shared a bedroom at the Better Futures guest house, his roommate would be getting ready for work when he was getting ready for bed. Now Michael has the freedom to take night shift jobs that pay better and still sleep well during the day. Another benefit of living at Fremont, Michael says, is that “you don’t have to worry about your neighbors.” He likes that he knows the other men from Better Futures and that the guys look out for each other. But the change that mattered most to Michael was the confidence that came with paying rent. At 53, Michael had never had his own apartment, and he felt it was a stepping stone to adulthood he had yet to reach. “When it’s something you’ve never done, you’re really scared you’re going to mess up,” Michael said. After he paid his first month’s rent, Michael felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. After a few months, he says, it feels pretty manageable.
I asked Greg, JT and Michael where they see themselves in the future. Greg says he might move back to Chicago to take care of his mother in a few years. But as long as he stays in the Twin Cities, Greg sees himself staying at Fremont—the rent is the most affordable for what Alliance offers, and like Michael, he likes knowing his neighbors. JT is grateful for his apartment but aspires to own his own house. He recently started his own roofing and gutter business, and if business stays as good as it’s been lately, his dream could well become a reality. Michael says he would like to look into some programs self-improvement. While Greg, JT and Michael are all at different points in their lives, with different interests and aspirations, it’s clear that they all share an appreciation for a safe home and a second chance.

Patricia Anne Smith Neir Memorial

Posted on: September 1st, 2016

Longtime (& very active) Alliance Housing Board member, Fran Neir, and his wife, Patti Anne Smith Neir, made us the memorial beneficiary with Patti’s recent death.  We are humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love towards the Neir family and will steward the resources well helping single adults and families create stable homes for themselves and their children.  Stable housing is the foundation of accomplishing anything in one’s life.   All gifts will be formally acknowledged by Alliance and the list of donors shared with Fran.

A Life Ended Too Soon

Posted on: July 12th, 2016

Thank you to Lawrence Young, a neighbor, who shared this store about Dwayne.

Thirty years of oblivion. That’s what most of us would consider the last half of the life of Dewayne Fleming, most commonly known as Brillo on the streets of Minneapolis. But after being shot and stabbed more than once, that is not the term that he would use to describe it. Being kidnapped and locked in a trunk for days only adds to the color of the man who told me “I like my women so black they just short of blue.”
We met after Dewayne was released from Hennepin County hospital where he had spent a considerable amount of time being treated for congestive heart failure. When I visited him there I could see when his memory kicked in and he recognized me. I hadn’t seen him in years but I could tell he had something funny to say but the tubes he was attached to kept him from talking. That’s the first and last time I ever saw him at a loss for words.
I became Dewayne’s neighbor and moved into a place across the hall from him. Everyday we spent hours in the kitchen sharpening each other across the table with our experiences and wisdom until breakfast was ready. We had the best soul kitchen in the city. We were the bean and cornbread brothers and it was doing good things for the both of us. Dewayne lost weight and seemed to be improving in health. Although he was confined to a certain part of town for a long time, his conversation covered the universe. His comments didn’t come from out of left field but the other side of the cotton field where truth was spoken and it trumped feelings. His views were raw and as he understood it. He loved to tell me ways of outsmarting or maneuver any obstacle the system could offer.
It was during one of these sessions that I realized I was talking to my medical advisor. I had injuries from an auto accident and had no idea how to negotiate the medical field, which was to me, a quagmire between someone who needs treatment and the medical and insurance fields. One day as I was leaving on my quest for treatment Dewayne stopped me and said, “You bout to walk into the lions’ den wearing bacon underwear. Take me with you and do what I tell you and we’ll get all that done today.”
When I got back home I had everything I needed to start my recovery. He explained not only the mechanics of how these fields work but the psychology of them. He made me understand that the medical field was full of hoops to jump through guaranteed to frustrate the insincere and timid as well as those in need. He explained job titles and what the duties behind them were supposed to be. He was like my personal PHD on the subject.
Whenever we went somewhere in my car I felt like I was driving Denzel Washington around. Waves and acknowledgements came from everybody that saw him along the way. Every stop light meant a conversation with someone in the next car, on the street corner, or on the bus stop. He was a bonafide celebrity.
Brother Bishop, as some of us called him, was crude but unpretentious. He always told me to count my blessings and not my troubles. He was the absolute funniest man I ever met while expressing sage wisdom at the same time. He told me he’d had a beautiful life because God hadn’t let him die from all the tribulation he’d been through. All his anecdotes were about his experiences on the streets. He had made his peace with God but his mind couldn’t escape the last 30 years. One Saturday, after 30 years of living everywhere, Bishop Dewayne Fleming died AT HOME.

Tenant Profile: Selena

Posted on: December 8th, 2015

Selena and Shaun

 

 

Selena has a lot to be proud of. She works full time as a Credit Advisor at Target Corporate, making $15.50 an hour, while raising her son, Sean, who just turned two in November. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana in 2011, has a degree in cosmetology, and moved to Minneapolis in May of 2014. In June 2014, Selena came to our program when she found herself without a home. Although she had experienced homelessness as a child, this was her first time encountering homelessness as an adult. While at the shelter, Selena met Melanie, who works with our Northside Supportive Families Program, and got accepted into the program, working at both Target and the Children’s Place for $8.20 an hour.

Unhappy with the late hours and low wage, Selena left her retail jobs for a position with Wells Fargo. After being with Wells Fargo for six months, she applied for a job with Target Corporate and got accepted to the position she now has, which she loves. Making nearly double what she earned at the start of the program, Selena has been able to pay off $1,000 in debt, while budgeting money to save for a car. She is proud to have raised her credit score, and that she has enough discipline to pay off what debt she still has left. Having the past experience of raising her credit score, she is calm despite recent bumps in the road, knowing that she has the skills needed to manage her money and get back to where she wants to be. She’s also started couponing, and managing her money makes her hopeful that she’ll be sufficient on her own.

One quote Selena goes by is, “think rich, look poor.” As she describes it, “Right now, (living this way), it’s only temporary— save, reach your goals to do what you dream of. Right now you don’t have to buy all of the fancy materials, but live within your means and plan for the future. I’m thinking for the future rather than living rich now. That’s what a lot of people do, I’m trying to do the opposite.”

Although she isn’t currently using her cosmetology degree, she is working on getting licensed in Minnesota so she can have the career she dreams of. She’s proud to be saving and building a cushion of stability through her career at Target, while watching Sean grow up and become “this new person”, a sometimes bossy two year old who loves the word “mine”.

More than anything, Selena is hopeful for stability. “I hope for stability, that’s all I hope for. I just want my kid to be in a good school and for me to be able to provide for the both of us.”

What Sets Us Apart

Posted on: November 12th, 2015

Alliance Housing is 25 years old.  Though many things have changed over time such as staff, leadership, office address, and numbers of properties owned. Our mission and values have remained steadfast.  We believe the totality of the following attributes are what sets us apart from most housing agencies and organizations, and make us good stewards of the gifts we’ve received over the years from many generous individuals and foundations.

  • We’re in the business of housing people – not screening them out. Everyone deserves a 2nd
  • Our operations and decision making begins with the lives and realities of our tenants – balanced with the bottom line. We’ve kept our rents some of the most affordable in the market.
  • Our resources primarily cover property management operations and tenant services – not administration, fundraising and marketing. We’re lean and effective.
  • Our supportive housing program rewards people for working. Coaching helps parents learn new skills that can help them sustain housing and advance in employment long term.

Remaining committed to these attributes has allowed us to establish a critical niche in the affordable housing world. That may sound like standard nonprofit marketing claims but we’ve got evidence to back it up.  Our phones ring off the hook from people who are denied housing because of their criminal, housing or credit history.  A quick survey of our scattered site rental property tenants indicates that up to  70% have criminal issues in their background.  Many of these tenants have also been homeless or stuck in low wage jobs.  Because they’ve been poor, many have eviction, unpaid rent and other bills in their past.  Alliance’s 2nd chance policy gives them the opportunity to prove they can be a good tenant.  And most are, – they pay their rent, mostly on time, and respect their apartment and neighbors.  As a result, our uncollected rent and loss from vacant units is under 5%.

Our tenant’s wellbeing is a core focus in everything we do, from budget changes to our board selection processes.  At budget preparation time, the board is always cognizant of the impacts any rent related changes will have on our tenants, especially those living on fixed incomes.  Tenants have a direct voice in board decisions because they make up 25% of its members.

In regards to use of our resources, our audit has tracked our expenses over the years to be around 94% programs, 4% management and 2% fundraising.  Our management and fundraising percentages have never been higher than 8%.

Our 34 families who are participating in our Northside Supportive Housing for Families program are demonstrating higher wages and monthly income the longer they participate.  They earn a $200-$300 monthly subsidy when they are working 25-35 hours per month.  This gives them a cushion in their monthly budget which helps with saving money and paying off old bills.  Some of them are experiencing the longest tenure in housing and employment.  In more traditional public rent assistance programs, their subsidies would be higher if they were unemployed – creating (we believe) a disincentive to work.

2015 Annual Report

Posted on: September 21st, 2015

Alliance’s 2015 Annual Report is here! You can learn more about Alliance’s accomplishments and plans, and our amazing tenants and volunteers by clicking on the link below.

Alliance 2015 Annual Report

 

Alliance AR Final cover

Annual Fundraising Breakfast

Posted on: September 3rd, 2015

Thank you to the 170+ guests who joined us on October 8th for our Alliance Housing annual fundraising breakfast.  Tenants, Greg Mure and Brenda Connell, stole the show by sharing their stories and how stable housing has helped them move forward in their lives.  Thanks to our terrific and generous sponsors who along with our guest’s generous donations and matches from the Pohlad Family and Frey Foundation matches exceed our fundraising goal.

We depend on the generosity of donations to allow us to keep our rents affordable to very low wage workers and disabled adults – many of whom would be seriously challenged to find housing elsewhere.  Gifts also support our innovative Northside Supportive Housing for Families program – providing housing subsidies that incent work, not unemployment.

Rooming Houses Are an Important Part of the Affordable Housing Patchwork

Posted on: April 16th, 2015

By Barbara Jeanetta, Executive Director of Alliance Housing Inc.

I read almost weekly about the ills of rooming house life. My google alerts bring me stories of fire, over –crowding, and substandard conditions. In Minneapolis, zoning codes prohibit new rooming house licenses. Some of you will be surprised to hear that there are still a few rooming houses out there. I toured a few existing properties a few years ago and found many of the properties worn out, but at full occupancy.

Alliance Housing gets multiple calls every day from single adults looking for an apartment. Some are not too keen on the idea of sharing a kitchen and bathroom with other adults until they learn they’ll have a lease in their name and rent is under $350. Once they are in our attractive, well-cared for building in Whittier, or one of our properties in the Powderhorn, Phillips, and Central neighborhoods, they quite happily settle in having more control over their housing situation than they’ve had for a long while.

A profile of our rooming house tenants makes it hard to put a finger on exactly who needs this type of housing. Our tenants who rent rooms are varied: men, women, working, not working, old, young. 38% of them are working, 45% are disabled and on some sort of government program, 14% are retired and receive a government or VA pension. The kinds of jobs our tenants have range from parking lot attendant to retail clerk, from fast food and janitorial work to 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.

At an average income of $11,734, men and women who want their own place are well matched with the price of rent in an Alliance room. The average one bedroom apartment in south Minneapolis costs $788 per month. To pay 30% of one’s income or less for this rent would take a minimum wage person 65 hours per week or a much higher wage at less hours. Alliance’s rooms are affordable under the same terms for 27 hours per week.

24 of 27 tenants at our Pillsbury rooming house over the past year had lived there over 6 months. The longest tenured tenant has been there 15 years. The average tenancy is 3.5 years. There is no time limit for how long someone lives in the rooming house as long as they are paying their rent and respecting the property and their neighbors, but we hope some are able to move on to a bigger place of their own. Some find the price aligns with their income and are quite satisfied. Some get asked to move on after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate and collect rent or because of their inability to control either their own behavior or the behavior of friends.

Alliance supports the tenants’ sense of community and enforces a few rules to keep its rooming house calm and an asset to tenants and neighbors alike. Over the past year, police were called 27 times. More than 75% of the calls were for issues the police keep anonymous – help with issues related to mental health and issues that don’t involve a crime. Admittedly, six were for fights or concerns about drug activity. We take those seriously and follow-up to ensure they don’t happen again, at least with that tenant at our property.

A recent editorial by Ed Murphy of Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless noted that we have eliminated much of the housing in this community for tenants like Alliance’s at 2011 Pillsbury. Urban renewal cleared out residential hotels and pay-by-the-week housing to make way for high amenity condos and apartments in downtown Minneapolis. Coupled with higher incarceration rates and deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill without good solutions on the other side, the number of homeless adults who can’t afford or get screened out of today’s affordable housing options continues to increase. Well-run rooming houses like Alliance’s are part of the solution. Better public policy and use of government support would encourage their presence and focus on keeping them well-managed in order to keep low-wage and low-income adults housed.

Lynne’s departure

Posted on: April 7th, 2015

We bid farewell and thank you to Administrative Coordinator, Lynne Rectenwald, in February.  Lynne joined Alliance Housing in 2010.  Kudos thrown her way at her farewell lunch included:  she brought polish and professionalism to Alliance’s events, she tackled and organized the mountains of paperwork that had accumulated at Alliance, she brought a positive, can do attitude to all of her work.  We were lucky to have someone of Lynne’s talents and wish her well as she returns to the world of meeting planning fulltime.

New Sites!

Posted on: January 8th, 2015

Funding and re-development plans continue for a project to serve homeless adults, 55 years and older. Alliance staff are evaluating the re-use of a building at 201 Lake Street or a vacant lot to provide safe and secure housing as a base for a better quality of life for these folks. St. Stephens Human Service’s Community Engagement Team assisted Alliance in hosting a focus group of older adults who had experienced homelessness. We plan to use their wise advice to guide or work on this project. If you have ideas or advice to help us advance the project, please call or email Barb.

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