Jerel Stimpel is one of our newest residents. The 28 year-old cook and photographer moved into his apartment earlier this spring and so far, he’s settling in nicely. When asked about his favorite part of the unit, he answers quickly: “The kitchen.” His favorite meal to cook? Southern comfort food, or a New York strip steak with all the sides. Every Sunday, he and his family gather for dinner. Now that he has his own place, he is looking forward to hosting family dinner soon.
Before finding a home with Alliance, Jerel was in a situation many of our residents are familiar with. After leaving a toxic relationship, Jerel found himself without a place to live and without the resources to secure one. He spent the year living almost entirely out of his car. “Where I was living was uninhabitable,” he says.
However, between paying off debt, building credit, keeping his car running, renting hotel rooms for freezing winter nights, and buying other necessities like food, Jerel had no money left for a security deposit to secure housing. “People are feeling some type of way, I was feeling down,” Jerel said. Dealing with the compounding trauma of the pandemic, police brutality, and homelessness took a toll on Jerel. Despite being unhoused, Jerel held down a job consistently throughout the year, working as a cook at local restaurants and catering companies. He also got involved with Creative MPLS, a multipurpose recording and photography studio, as a photographer and videographer.
Eventually, a Hennepin County case worker referred Jerel to Alliance. He met with an Alliance Property Manager who worked with him to understand the process of moving in—from knowing exactly how much to save for the security deposit to budgeting for rent. Working with a property manager who understood his situation made all the difference. Within a few months he was ready to move in. Soon after, Jerel’s brother, who had also been experiencing homelessness, was also able to move into the same building. For Jerel, having his brother live across the hall “[is] a reason to get up every day.”
Now that he is settled into his new home, Jerel plans to continue pursuing his two passions: cooking and photography. He will be continuing to work with Creative MPLS, setting up his own LLC, and selling his own food. When asked about what he wants to tell others about affordable housing and the work that Alliance does, Jerel says “It gets better, there is help.”