Building Community Blog

When the housing market collapsed, entire neighborhoods of North Minneapolis could have been re-classified as financial crime scenes. To get an idea of the scope of the mortgage maleficence perpetrated check out Jeff Skrenes’ list of all the fraud prosecutions on his North by Northside blog. The greed that had overtaken people during the housing bubble left city blocks scarred with homes abandoned and falling into disrepair.

For the staff of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (and lots of other people), this was very tough to see. Twin Cities Habitat has a long, and strong, relationship with Northside families. Over the years, more than 170 families have purchased a home in North Minneapolis with our help. Habitat crews have completed more than 450 home repair projects in partnership with Northside families through our A Brush With Kindness program. At the bottom of the housing collapse, Twin Cities Habitat’s Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program was working with hundreds of families a year to try and help them adjust their mortgage into something they could afford.

By Robert Paquin
Global Village Team Member

I can’t believe that Friday is upon us and have now parted ways from our new Costa Rican family.  It was a bittersweet departure since the work we wanted to continue had to come to an end.  What this group was able accomplish within the past week was astonishing!  From spending multiple hours in a 140cm trench, mixing batch after batch of concrete for the whatever depth holes we dug earlier, to putting up the walls of Marcela’s and Heiner’s new home.  Even though a structure stands, there were still many tasks that need to be completed.

Since the A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) program first launched in 1998, the staff, partners and volunteers have had one goal in mind: to help Habitat for Humanity extend its mission beyond first time homebuyers, to make sure decent affordable shelter is able for all. It wasn’t long after the program launched in the Twin Cities that other affiliates began to start home repair programs of their own.

“It’s clear that the lack of affordable housing isn’t a problem we can build our way out of solely with new housing units. Many of the low income families we serve through ABWK have purchased and maintained their homes for years, only to have an illness, job loss, or other circumstance put them at risk of losing the stability that owning a home provides,” said Senior Project Supervisor Mike Robertson.

Today we celebrate the life of one of our countries greatest moral leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. He inspired the country and brought about great changes, not by earning more votes, or spending more money, or making threats. He brought about change through the power of his words, his vision, and the unstoppable energy he displayed in showing us how to bring them to life. 

After a short break following the dedications of nearly a dozen homes in November and December, Twin Cities Habitat hosted its first home dedication of 2015. On Thursday, January 15th we celebrated with Safi Ismael, Zeynaba Muhammed, and their family in their new home on Jersey Avenue N in Crystal. After moving many times, first from Ethiopia to Minnesota then numerous times around the Twin Cities, the family is excited to have their own place to call home. They have three children under three years-old and have outgrown their current one-bedroom apartment. They view this home and their partnership with Habitat as an incredible opportunity to start a new chapter in their lives. 

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has partnerships with multiple schools throughout the Twin Cities, but Minnetonka’s VANTAGE program is unique. VANTAGE stands for Minnetonka’s Advanced Professional Studies Program, and offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to partner with local Twin Cities companies by doing real world business projects.

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