Winter weather is here in Minnesota. Here are some helpful tips for keeping your home warm on a budget.
1. Older, drafty windows not only cause cold air to get into your house, they lead to expensive energy bills. Putting plastic shrink wrap on your windows is a cheap, easy way to keep warm and save money in the winter.
2. As the weather gets cold animals often try to stay warm by finding a way into your house. You can keep them outside by sealing cracks in foundation with caulking or covering larger holes with mesh. Trimming branches around your house can help keep bugs and rodents away as well.
3. Avoid cracked pipes and plumbing fees by turning off all outdoor plumbing. If you have any pipes that are in non-insulated areas like a garage you can add insulation around the pipes to avoid freezing during winter. A busted pipe can be a mess and expensive to fix.
4. Avoid getting scammed by furnace company deals. Getting a second opinion and watching out for tricks can help you save a lot of money. Check out this article for more information.
Abdul, his wife Asli and their 6 wonderful children worked with PRG to move from Minneapolis Public Housing to purchase their first home in September 2016. Abdul’s family is an amazing example of how PRG supports individuals and families in their homeownership goals, and works at the invitation of neighborhoods to build strong communities.
“We believe in America for dreams. We have big dreams like this house now,” Abdul sharing his family’s story.
In 2016, PRG raised more in individual donations than in any other year. This year the need for affordable, equitable housing is still strong, and we want to exceed that amazing result.
We’ll need your help to do it. Here’s what you can do:
- Plan on giving on Thursday, Nov. 16 or schedule your gift
- A gift in any amount helps (we can even win “Golden Tickets” through random drawings)
- Tell your friends and family how they can help
- Use the hashtag #GTMD17 on social media
Stay tuned for more updates.
It may still feel like summer well into October, but there’s no time like the present to do fall household chores. Here are a few of the key home maintenance activities you should complete before the snow flies.
You may be tired of working in the garden, but fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs as well as fall bulbs like tulips and daffodils. Continue to water regularly until you shut off your water.
Preventing thick layers of leaves to collect on your grass stops mold and damage, so you’ll want to rake your lawn. However, a covering of leaves on garden plants provides good protection for winter, so don’t bag up all of your leaves.
- Clean gutters
Whether you do it yourself or hire a gutter cleaning company, clearing out debris from your gutters prevents water damage. It’s also a good time to inspect your roof for loose shingles or other damage.
- Shut off outside spigots
Prevent your pipes from freezing by shutting off the valve to the outside spigots. Drain hoses and store in garage or indoors.
- Clean garage
Make room for your vehicles in your garage so you’re not scraping ice and snow this winter.
- Check furnace/boiler
You don’t want to have an outage in your furnace during Minnesota’s winters. Have your furnace or boiler serviced regularly. If you have hot water heat, check and bleed radiators.
- Caulk windows and doors
Check for air leaks around doors and windows. You can lower your heating bills by caulking gaps.
- Clean dryer vents
Clogged dryer vents can pose a safety hazard. Be sure to clean regularly—spring and fall are both good times. Always use rigid aluminum venting, not flexible.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Fall is as good a time as any to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning. Test and replace batteries twice a year.
Based on Home Maintenance Checklist NYT.com
You’ve become a homeowner….now what?
PRG wants to help you be a successful homeowner. That’s why we hosted our first-ever Home Maintenance workshop this summer.
Attended by over 20 households, this workshop featured information and tips from Project Manager Kevin Gulden about home maintenance and upkeep. Held at one of our recently-completed homes in north Minneapolis, the 90-minute workshop was specially designed for first-time homebuyers. The presentation included information on winterizing, knowing where to find shut-off valves, changing furnace filters, and exterior maintenance.
Wish you could have been on the tour? Check out PRG’s monthly Home Tips blog: HomeTips
A well-stocked tool box is something no homeowner should be without. You’ll use it when you put together flat-packed furniture, tighten loose screws, hang pictures, or install shelving. You can buy off-the-shelf tool kits, but these are the six must-haves:
Be sure to hold the hammer at its base and not in the middle for the most control. And be careful of your fingers!
2) Tape Measure
Whether you get a 10-foot or 25-foot, a tape measure will prevent you from buying a sofa that’s too big for your living room.
This type will do, but even better than a set of screwdrivers (flat and Phillips), is one with exchangeable bits (like this one). You might also want to invest in an electric/cordless drill/screwdriver.
As a homeowner, you will put together countless chairs, devices, toys, and tools. A set of these hex (also called Allen) wrenches will help you get the job done. You’ll also need an adjustable wrench for bolts.
5) Needle-nose Pliers
Remove nails, tighten loose-fitting brackets, and rescue dropped jewelry from the tub drain.
6) Utility Knife
Use a sharp utility knife for opening boxes or breaking down cardboard for recycling. A basic one like this will do or you can invest in one with multiple blades.
“So much pertinent information crammed into one day! The speakers were all really engaging and knowledgeable.”
Anyone can search the MLS listings for houses for sale, so why take an all-day class just to learn about buying a home?
At PRG’s Home Stretch Homebuyer Workshop, you’ll learn all about the homebuying process and how to make the best decisions for your situation.
With guest speakers who are experts in the industry, a hands-on workbook you can keep, and knowledgeable facilitators, workshops include information on:
- working with lenders
- credit and budgeting
- special loan programs
- working with realtors
- home inspections
- what to expect at a closing
- being a successful homeowner
In addition, PRG workshops meet HUD guidelines and are approved by NSP and Neighborhood LIFT, necessary to qualify for some types of down payment assistance and other programs.
“The class was so interesting and helpful! I wish I would have taken it two months ago before I started the process.”
“We’re saying thank you to one of the longest-running homeownership programs in the city of Minneapolis and one of the original members of the Homeownership Advisors Network: PRG, Inc.”
June is Homeownership Month! In recognition of that, the Minnesota Homeownership Center has highlighted a few partners including PRG. Erin and Mindy, two of our fabulous homeownership advisors, are interviewed in this great piece:
Homeownership Advisor Network Highlight: PRG, Inc.
Great job, Erin and Mindy! And thank you, MN HOC!
One of the great things about owning your home is the ability to plant a vegetable garden. Even though we’re into the warm days of June, you can still plant for a late summer or fall harvest.
- Choose a sunny spot in your yard
Many vegetables require four to six hours of sun per day.
- Prepare the Soil
Using a spade and a lot of careful bending at the knees, till the soil 6-12” deep. Add organic material such as compost or peat moss (available at garden centers and hardware stores) to the soil. You can also rent a tiller if you’re putting in a large garden.
- Choose the plants
The University of Minnesota Extension Service lists ideal times for planting vegetables.
- Water regularly
- Add mulch
New plants like mulch (wood chips, straw, leaves). It keeps the soil cool and prevents drying out.
A recent opinion piece in the Star Tribune (“Counterpoint: Public initiative, not private incentives, are need to improve north Minneapolis,” May 26, 2017) highlights the need for public initiative to level the playing field in Minneapolis.
North Minneapolis, in addition to enduring structural racism since the 1930s, has suffered through the predatory lending practices of the early 2000s and the devastating tornado in 2011. Disinvestment has compounded these issues for this community.
Neeraj Mehta, director of community programs at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, cites PRG as an example of what can be done with city subsidies. Our James Avenue Cluster project is an example of strategic development that we believe has lasting impact.
Mehta states: “PRG’s infill development strategy achieved numerous racial-, social-, and economic-justice outcomes.”
PRG’s multi-family housing development, Spirit on Lake, was the final stop on a tour of affordable housing developments during National Housing Conference’s “Solutions for Housing Communications 2017” held in Minneapolis in late April. The conference is held annually and connects housing communications professionals, affordable housing developers, and advocates from across the country.
During the tour, PRG’s Executive Director Kathy Wetzel-Mastel spoke to the NHC group about the challenges and rewards developing Spirit on Lake, the first in the nation to serve the aging LGBTQ community. The affordable housing facility was completed in 2015 and is fully leased up. Located on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the property is also home to a growing immigrant community.
Tour-goers also got a peek at the ground floor space belonging to Quatrefoil Library which collects and circulates gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer materials and information.
Spring is a great time to enjoy your home inside and out. With all the chores you could be doing, we compiled a list of what not to do.
Don’t climb on the roof to inspect the condition of the shingles or chimney (safety first!). Some good binoculars or a secure ladder can help you see if you need to call in a professional to make repairs. Look for shingles that are damaged, curling or cupping at the edges, or missing granules.
Don’t use a high-pressure hose to clean your windows. This can damage the glass, weather-stripping, or caulking around the windows. It could also spray water into your house.
Don’t rake your grass too soon. This can pull the turf out by the roots. Wait until your lawn has dried enough that it doesn’t show footprints.
Don’t let weeds or shrubs crowd your house. Prune shrubs so they don’t touch your house or foundation and clear away any vegetation around your air conditioning unit to avoid blocking the air flow.
Don’t let downspouts get filled with debris. Clear away rotted leaves and make sure the spout is pointed away from the foundation.
Don’t depend on your dryer’s lint trap to catch all the debris. Built-up lint can be a fire hazard, so be sure to clean the dryer’s ducts and exterior vent.
Don’t plant grass seed. Early fall is the best time to plant seed, but if you have a bare yard, be sure to buy the correct type of seed and fertilizer. And if you didn’t have any weeds last year, don’t bother spraying in the spring.
On Thursday, March 16, 2017, President Trump released his proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year. In addition to cuts that broadly impact social services, the arts, environment, agriculture, and education, the budget also includes a $6.2 billion cut to HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
This proposed budget will have deep and lasting impacts on neighborhoods and families throughout the country. It would eliminate a variety of vital HUD programs including two that directly affect PRG’s work. The HOME Investment Partnerships Program supports our affordable housing development, and Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing provides much-needed operating support for our housing programs.
As is often the case, these program cuts will disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities. PRG, a recipient of HUD funding, has always worked to improve neighborhoods and communities on the local level.
Last year, PRG:
- Provided free foreclosure prevention counseling to 50 families, helping 73% of these avoid foreclosure
- Prepared 360 households for first-time homeownership with homebuyer education workshops
- Awarded 88% of our construction contracts to minority-owned businesses, impacting the local economy
- Sold 90% of PRG-developed homes to households of color
To continue doing this important work, we need your help to spread the word about the importance of protecting critical resources for affordable housing.
What you can do:
- Contact your elected representatives. Call or send postcards. Find contact information for:
- Donate to PRG. From $5 to $500, your tax-deductible gift in any amount helps.
- Share your PRG story. Tell us how PRG has impacted you, your neighborhood, or your community.
- What did you learn at HomeStretch?
- Do you live in a PRG-developed home? Can you share a picture of your house?
- Has Mindy or Thandisizwe or Erin helped you on your journey?
- Let your voice be heard.
Some of the original PRG founders
As PRG closed out its 40th anniversary year, we hosted an open house on Thursday, Feb. 23. More than 75 people attended and many original founders and early board and staff members joined us. Founding PRG board member Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin spoke about the importance of PRG’s legacy of supporting families through housing.
Other speakers at the event included Barbara Satin, Assistant Faith Work Director for The National LGBTQ Task Force; Dante Coleman, PRG homeowner and board member; and PRG’s own homeownership advisor Thandiswzwe Jackson-Nisan who performed poetry.
James Avenue home
While eating, drinking, and listening to the inspirational words of our speakers, attendees fell in love with the recently-completed home that was the site of the open house. The house on James Avenue North was built by PRG as part the Green Homes North Program and is one of eight built by PRG in the area over the past three years.
The 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom house is 1750 finished square feet. The house was designed by Jordan neighborhood resident Chic Hanssen (who was in attendance) and was built to Minnesota Green Communities
and Energy Star requirements.
Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our anniversary and for all the generous donations and support we’ve received throughout this past year. Here’s to another 40 years!
Have you been thinking about carpeting the living room or repaving the driveway? Making improvements to your home can increase its value and make your daily life more comfortable. But be wary of home improvement offers that seem “too good to be true.” Here are some tips for avoiding unethical or even illegal schemes.
1| Research the company
If you are approached with an offer of a great deal (such as by a door-to-door salesperson), take your time to research the firm.
2| Don’t fall prey to high-pressure sales tactics
Door-to-door scammers can really paint a dire picture of your home’s needs or insist on deals that “expire.” Take the time to shop around, compare, and research your options.
3| Confirm the company’s legitimacy
Under state law, door-to-door salespeople must present identification. Watch out for scammers that arrive in unmarked trucks or do not provide a physical address for their company.
4| Read offers and estimates carefully
Once you’ve received an estimate for a job, read it over carefully. Get more than one estimate for a project so you can compare the costs.
Under Minnesota’s Right to Cancel law, consumers have three days to cancel a contract made by a door-to-door solicitation.
5| Put your own safety first
Don’t invite door-to-door salespeople into your home. Scammers can be very aggressive and may refuse to leave until you’ve signed a contract. If you feel unsafe, it is not rude to say “no” and close the door. Listen to your instincts.
Report any suspected neighborhood scams to law enforcement.
Information based on: Minnesota Attorney General | Door-to-door Home Improvement Scams
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Don’t let water damage and plumbing bills get added to your list of winter woes!
Exposed pipes are susceptible to freezing. Wrap and insulate your pipes to protect them from cold temperatures. There are many options to choose from (including the one pictured) that can be found at any hardware or home supply store.
2) Adjust Thermostat
Even if you’ll be gone for an extended period (hopefully to Florida!), keep your thermostat set to at least 55 degrees. Even though water doesn’t freeze until it reaches 32 degrees, keeping your home any colder than 55 degrees puts you at risk of having frozen pipes.
3) Use Them
Pipes with moving water are less susceptible to freezing, so most of the time daily use prevents freezing. But if you have a bathroom or basement sink that rarely gets turned on, monitor it for water pressure and drainage. Also, although it may sound wasteful, letting a faucet drip can provide enough movement to prevent freezing. (A trickle the width of a pencil lead is sufficient and would result in water use that would cost about $2 a day.)
4) Open Cabinet Doors
Pipes confined under kitchen or bathroom cabinets don’t have access to the heat in the rest of the house and reach colder temperatures. Leaving the doors open to will allow heat to reach the pipes.
5) Locate the Water Shut-off Valve
Make sure you and others in your household know where the water main master shut-off valve is. If there is an incident (hopefully not!), shutting off the valve can help prevent extensive water damage.
Based on information from the City of Savage and U of MN Extension
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Exposed pipes, spider webs, damp storage, cold concrete. Sound familiar? If this describes your unfinished basement, here are some tips to making the space more pleasant.
1) Organization and Storage
If your basement is like most people’s, the first step is organizing all the stuff down there.
- Install or build shelves, making certain that things are off the floor. Metal shelving is best to prevent any moisture damage.
- Because basements can be damp and there is always a risk of flooding, use tightly-closing plastic bins, not cardboard boxes that are susceptible to water damage.
- Be sure to store paints, solvents, and other combustibles away from the furnace or water heater.
- Toss anything broken or damaged. For unused items like old toys, furniture, or other household goods, consider donating.
2) Floors and Walls
The ubiquitous cinder block walls and concrete floors are the telltale sign of an unfinished basement.
- Both walls and floors can be painted, but be sure to get paint specifically made for concrete flooring or cinder block and follow all m28anufacturer’s instructions.
- Adding inexpensive area rugs (keeping in mind the risk of water damage) or hanging tapestries, fabric, or curtains can soften the look.
3) Ceilings and Lighting
Unfinished basements can be dark even in the middle of the day and feel creepy because of the exposed ceilings.
- The advantage of the open ceiling is the ease of access to pipes and electrical, but you can paint the rafters and ceiling.
- If you have bare bulbs, get some clip-on shades to hang upside down. Add some floor lamps to improve the lighting.
Don’t forget the route down to the basement.
- Make sure there is good lighting to increase safety.
- Consider adding non-slip treads to the steps.
- If you don’t have one, install a handrail that is securely anchored to the wall.
5) Ambiance and Air Quality
You don’t have to dread a trip to the basement.
- Clean regularly to keep away the cobwebs and dust bunnies. Dust (using a broom with a rag on the end to reach into the rafters), vacuum, and mop.
- Managing mildew and mold will improve the smell of the basement. Using a dehumidifier, especially in the summer, can help.
- If you have more severe moisture issues, first address the cause of the water. Check out information about wet basements from the U of MN Extension Service.
Between the election and the unseasonably warm temperatures, November 2016 has been an interesting month. Despite (or perhaps because of) high emotions, people throughout Minnesota reached into their pockets and donated to nonprofits and schools during Give to the Max Day on November 17th.
Although the website for GiveMN.org crashed for a few hours (due to the overwhelming generosity of our state), PRG was still able to raise $6,080 and access a matching grant from the Kopp Family Foundation.
We still need to raise an additional $3,407 to reach our fundraising goal of $10,000 in individual donations for 2016—our 40th anniversary year. Making a gift is easy, fast, secure, and tax-deductible. Donate online via GiveMN or contact us.
Since 2012, the unremarkable, two-story house at 1816 Queen Avenue North had stood vacant. The drab building, owned by the City of Minneapolis, was an eyesore in the neighborhood. Originally built in 2002 as part of a failed for-profit development, the house lacked any curb appeal and didn’t have a garage.
PRG purchased the property from the City of Minneapolis earlier this year and began renovation. Improvements include updated finishes and mechanical systems and the vital addition of a two-car garage.
By January, 2017, construction on the four bedroom, two bathroom house should be completed, and this HOW property will go on the market. The renovation of this house will not only improve the life of the family that buys it, its fresh new look will also improve the neighborhood.
PRG has been renovating and building single-family homes since 1988. The changes are pretty dramatic!
Explore the past 40 years of PRG by clicking the arrows to move through the timeline or use your mouse to zoom in and out.
In the early days, PRG’s primary activity was developing multi-family affordable housing. Starting with Whittier Cooperative, PRG did redevelopment work in Whittier, Powderhorn, and Phillips in south Minneapolis on projects including Arbor Commons, Oakland Square, and Prairie Oaks Townhomes.
PRG has a long legacy of responding to community need and so, in 1988, PRG expanded development to owner-occupied houses that would be affordable for families. These first single-family developments were primarily located in Phillips and Powderhorn.
Ten years after beginning single-family developments, PRG looked beyond south Minneapolis to the north. According to the US Census, between 1990 and 2000 Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood lost 10% of its housing and the owner-occupied rate dropped 5% even while the amount of families with children in the area increased dramatically. Affordable, single-family housing was—and still is—needed to address these issues.
PRG’s first single-family homes in north Minneapolis were in Jordan, where we still have a strong presence today.
At a time when an estimated 11.7 million people worldwide had died of AIDS, PRG partnered with the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force (now called the Indigenous Peoples Task Force) on a 14-unit housing development for Native Americans living with HIV/AIDS. In 1997, with no cure or life-prolonging therapy yet developed, the life expectancy of those living with HIV/AIDS was around twenty years shorter than those without.
Mayindoowahdak Odena means “a place where ceremonies happen” in Ojibwe.
The project addressed the housing needs of HIV-positive Minnesotans, 44% of which had experienced homelessness. Previous housing projects for individuals with HIV/AIDS had not addressed the needs of the whole family and generally required patients to move away from their families. Mayindoowahdak Odena, located in Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood, allowed patients to live with their families, increasing stability. The affordable, permanent housing in a supportive, culturally-specific environment targeted low-income Native American individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
The design included a central ceremonial area echoing a traditional Native American village with community spaces. The MAIATF was also able to provide case management and support for residents. Maynidoowahdak Odena received the Design of the Year Award for Affordable Housing from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.
As PRG celebrates our 40th anniversary, we got to thinking about the household chores we used to do…and the ones we still have.
After over ten years of developing multi-family housing in primarily Powderhorn Park neighborhood, PRG expanded in 1988 to single-family development. This expansion was a logical next step for an organization whose goal was to make decent, affordable housing available to low and moderate income residents and giving these residents great control over their housing and neighborhoods.
PRG began with two single-family homes in Phillips and within ten years had expanded single-family developments to north Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood. We have built or rehabbed almost 200 homes since 1988.
Affordable, single-family housing development continues to be a cornerstone of our work today. Today, Governor Dayton announced $80 million in investments in affordable housing across the state, and PRG is one of 11 awardees for single-family development in Minneapolis.
In 1990, the corner of 32nd and Bloomington in South Minneapolis was well-known to law enforcement. Some described the block of fourplexes as a “mini-slum,” and the area had been the site of violence, illegal activity, and drive-by shootings.
So when PRG partnered with concerned neighbors to rehab the lot, area residents were enthralled by the demolition of the property.
What was built in its place were 12 two-bedroom units, each available to low-income families. The Linden Place project helped to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood by decreasing the density (from 100 to approximately 36), increasing green space and trees, and the addition of yards for children to play in.
In 1991, Linden Place was a finalist for a CUE (Committee on Urban Environment) Award in the Making Our Neighborhoods Better Places category.
In 1976, a group of concerned residents of the Powderhorn Park neighborhood formed a nonprofit in response to the economic hardship of the area. Here, reproduced in all its Xeroxed glory, is the original Articles of Incorporation for PRG.
The organization was founded with the intent of making decent, affordable housing available to low and moderate income residents. The 1976 mission and goals of Powderhorn Residents Group (as it was then known) were:
- Safe, decent, affordable housing for low and moderate income people
- Provide homeownership/resident control opportunities
- Provide family housing opportunities
Now, 40 years later, our vision and mission are similar. We combine community-based affordable housing development with education and counseling to help all people and neighborhoods thrive.
As we look back at the past four decades of PRG, please help us continue doing this work for another 40 years by donating to PRG on Give to the Max Day on November 17, 2016.
From Powderhorn to Jordan, from Native American communities to Cambodian refugee housing, from architectural awards to expansion of services, PRG has been part of the community in the Twin Cities for 40 years.
In celebration of our 40th anniversary, PRG has set a goal to raise $10,000 on Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s annual day of giving. In the ramp-up to Give to the Max Day on November 17, we will be sharing tidbits of history and the impact of PRG over the years.
Watch for #40DaysofPRG on Facebook, Twitter, and on the 40th Anniversary blog beginning October 7, and ending on Give to the Max Day on November 17, 2016.
And be sure to support PRG on Give to the Max Day!
Whittier School building
Shortly after its founding in 1976, PRG began to explore options for purchasing multi-family housing for rehab. PRG worked with the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) to secure funding, and eventually purchased Whittier School, a Minneapolis Public Schools building that was slated to be demolished.
The Whittier Cooperative Apartments (Section 8 housing) was completed by 1980, a successful first housing development for PRG.
If you have children, September means new schedules, lunches to pack, homework to do. But it can also be the perfect opportunity to get kids (back) into the habit of helping around the house. From preschoolers to teenagers, every child can pitch in with age-appropriate chores. Just don’t expect perfection and don’t use chores as punishments.
Feed the pets
Help clear the table
Learn to dust
Make the bed
Put toys away
Help unload dishwasher
Pick up around the house
Set the table
Sort dirty laundry
Sort the recylcingHousehold chores
Sweep the floor
Take out the garbage
Replace the toilet paper roll
Wash windows and mirrors
Clean the refrigerator
Mow the lawn
Simple household repairs (changing light bulbs, painting, patching)
Based in part on information from Psychology Today