In a lot of ways, the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis is just like every other residential neighborhood in the city. Families push strollers as they go for walks, people have barbecues in their backyards and friends hangout on their front steps. It's this sense of community that the residents have in Jordan that Twin Cities Habitat wants to build on through our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI).
A few years back, in the midst of the Great Recession, Habitat for Humanity International asked Habitat affiliates around the country to pilot NRI and see what kind of an impact could be created by focusing new construction, repair and community building efforts in small geographical areas. Right now, Twin Cities Habitat is in the midst of this work on 8 blocks of Jordan. Two Habitat homes were built on these blocks last year, this year 4 more are going up and more will go up next year.
Three of the Habitat homes being built this year are sponsored by General Mills, Carlson, Thrivent Financial which have all been building and sponsoring Habitat homes on the Northside for years. The fourth home is being sponsored and built by volunteers from First Universalists Church in South Minneapolis. Last Christmas the congregation came together and challenged themselves to fully sponsor a Habitat home by donating half of what they normally spend on holiday gifts. It's these kinds of inspirational stories that don't get told often enough on the Northside.
From a community building perspective, Twin Cities Habitat is making a lot of new friends and building a lot of strong relationships with other organizations working on improving the quality of life in and around Jordan. We've partnered with the Jordan Area Community Council to come up with home designs that fit what neighbors want to see built. We're also in close contact with the Project for Pride in Living, PRG and the Northside Home Fund. One thing we've already learned from piloting this NRI work is that things go better when more people are at the table, having the tough conversations, early in the planning process.
Even as we pour a lot of labor and love into these 8 blocks, Habitat continues to work all over the Northside. For example, A Brush with Kindness has helped repair 28 homes across Jordan over the past three years. Since the housing market collapse, Twin Cities Habitat's Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Counselors have helped more than 600 Northside homeowners work with their lenders to stabilize their housing situation.
It's too bad that violence grabs all of the headlines when it comes to North Minneapolis because there are a lot of families and organizations working to create positive change.