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As we wind down the year and reflect on an incredible 2018, we are so grateful for everything we have achieved together. It’s hard to believe how many positive changes have been made this year. From adding 3 new staff to our team, to powerful advocacy with Make Homes Happen, 2018 was a year of raising our collective voices to build stronger communities.
Last year, through a viral video highlighting a Somali family’s journey from public housing to buying a home with PRG, we connected with hundreds of households from the Somali community. As a result, Nimo joined our staff to help strengthen our engagement with our East African community members.
In May, we said goodbye to our long-time homeownership services manager Mindy who relocated to Michigan and said hello to Portia Jackson as she moved into that role. We are so excited for the expertise and lived experience Portia has brought to the work—a northside resident who has gone through the PRG advising and homebuying process–as well as worked in housing services across the metro to support other homeowners of color close the gap and build generational wealth.
Advancing our work in support of helping all people and neighborhoods to thrive, we added Luis to the team in October. His experience in finance and passion for working with the Latino community is an incredible addition to PRG, and we are now a tri-lingual organization.
Our ongoing partnership with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority continues to create opportunities for families to move along the housing continuum. The Moving On program supports higher-income public housing tenants working with our homeownership services staff to transition from public housing to homeownership.
We are so happy for Karmalita, a mother of 3, who bought her first home through Moving On in 2018. She recently shared her gratitude in working with Erin, her homeownership services advisor.
“Besides all the help with building my income and credit, I could feel Erin was rooting for me. She wanted this for me, and it was like she was right there to make up for whatever confidence I was lacking about owning a home. PRG’s entire team has made this whole process so easy and simple for me. Owning a home now for me and my kids gives us a few more responsibilities, but it also gives us that space and privacy that we always wanted thanks to PRG.”
PRG staff continued working with Make Homes Happen, an affordable housing advocacy group comprised of people working in wide array of housing-related non-profits across Minneapolis. These efforts led to Mayor Frey and the city council passing a $40 million allotment for affordable housing production, preservation, and protection in their $1.5 billion 2019 budget. The group worked closely with community members and the city to develop and finalize this historic work.
With all of PRG’s progress, growth, and change, our executive director described 2018 in one word, “evolution.”
“I’m super excited about our work with twenty-three Minneapolis Public Housing families to help them achieve their goal of homeownership. There is such a clear triple bottom line to this work: narrowing the racial homeownership gap; creating opportunities for intergenerational wealth creation, and; freeing-up scarce public housing units,” Kathy shared in reflecting on PRG’s accomplishments this year.
“Three new staff members over the course of year is a lot of change for a small organization and successful onboarding is time intensive and so necessary because how we do what we do is just as important as what we do. It has also been really rewarding to see our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion produce meaningful impact. With a board and staff that are now 50% people of color, we have connections to new communities; a rich diversity of lived experiences; and services in English, Spanish and Somali. How cool is that?”
Kathy is approaching her 10th year as executive director at PRG, and much of the evolution we have seen is a result of her leadership. With a strong team in place we are looking ahead to the future with optimism and hope.
“I envision PRG continuing to make real change in people’s lives by leveraging the lived experience of our staff, board, and clients to use our capacity and resources in the most effective way possible,” Kathy shared.
Onward to 2019. From all of us at PRG, thank you. Happy New Year!
Give to the Max Day proves to be a great opportunity for PRG to share homeowner stories, engage with our supporters, and raise funds to carry out the work. In 2018, we broke our Give to the Max Day record. We are so humbled and grateful for all of our individual donors, foundation partners, board members, volunteers, and community supporters. We could not do this important work without you.
PRG just completed the 100th home since 2010! Why do we do this work? Because this house had been vacant and boarded since 2012. Because it will be home for a family of ten coming out our partnership with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. Because there are 13,000+ households on the waiting list for public housing in Minneapolis. Because homeownership is key to building intergenerational assets. Because MN has the 2nd worst in the nation racial homeownership gap. Because all but three of those 100 construction contracts have gone to contractors of color or women operated companies.
Watch the 100th Home Video here
Give to the Max Day 2018 is just around the corner on November 15. Last year we broke our individual fundraising record and, as a result, we were able to expand our outreach across communities of color in the Twin Cities, and build relationships with the Somali community. We were also able to hire a Somali speaking homeownership advisor. None of this would be possible without the generous support of individuals like you. This year we are confident we can make even more progress in our important work.
A donation to PRG can:
- Help renovate a vacant house into a beautiful home for families of color. In 2017 PRG sold 11 homes with all but one purchased by households of color with an average income of 65% AMI.
- Help our advisors hold 18 first-time homebuyer education workshops. Last year we provided pre-purchase education to 458 households and one-on-one advising to 305 households.
- Provide free, one-on-one, foreclosure prevention assistance to families. Of the foreclosure cases resolved in 2017, 83% avoided foreclosure.
In the coming weeks will be sharing homeowner stories and videos, and more details on Give to the Max Day 2018 on our website and social media.
Michael grew up in North Minneapolis and has worked at The Cookie Cart for years. Now, with the help of PRG, he and his father Keondre are proud homeowners in their community. Their story is such a powerful example of PRG’s mission in action. We work with community to create opportunity, strengthen neighborhood connection, and build generational wealth. It’s wonderful to see inspiring community members like Keondre and Michael owning a home and building a foundation in their North Minneapolis neighborhood.
You’ve hopefully made it through the tedious process of filing taxes, but did you know there’s still time to file for a property tax refund? Both homeowners and renters can file for refunds for the past three years until August 15. With property taxes increasing every year, this is a great idea to get some of your money back.
Step 1: Homestead your property
Homeowners should make sure their home is homesteaded. This should have been done when you purchased your home, but occasionally it gets missed. In Minneapolis, you can check this here Minneapolis Portal. If you find your property is not homesteaded, the application can be found here
Step 2: Check your income eligibility
The next step for both homeowners and renters is to check your income eligibility. Household income is your federal adjusted gross income from your most recent tax return plus your nontaxable income minus your retirement plan contribution. Here are the income limits:
Step 3: File your return
The MN Department of Revenue has provided physical forms and electronic processes for filing for a refund, and all of the necessary applications can be found on their website. The site includes frequently asked questions, instructional videos, and other important information.
MN Department of Revenue
Step 4: Get your money!
Once you’ve filed for your refund, you will be able to track your return with the Minnesota Department of Revenue. For more details check the website below:
Where’s My Refund?
Owning a home is an investment that requires responsibility, commitment, and a lot of up front expenses. Keeping up with quick and easy benefits like homeowner refunds is a good way to increase your return on investment, and help ease the initial costs of homeownership. Our trusted advisors at PRG are always available to support you through these processes. If you ever have questions or want to walk through an application, just set up a free one on one appointment at our website.
PRG Homeownership Advising Services
Whether you are buying your first home or upgrading to a bigger house, navigating the market in Minneapolis can be very challenging these days. With home prices on the rise and a depleted inventory, it is very likely that the house you’re hoping to buy will be have multiple offers. PRG’s staff are knowledgeable and experienced in helping homebuyers through the process. Before diving in, a good first step is to meet one on one with our Homeownership Services staff who provide free education and advising support.
Project Manager in Real Estate Development, Kevin Gulden, and our Real Estate and Development Coordinator, Erin Wilson shared their tips on finding a home in a competitive market.
Data indicates a steady decrease in inventory, and an increase in price of homes in Minneapolis. Graphs from the Minneapolis Association of Realtors.
Find a trusted, knowledgeable realtor
A lot of people are buying homes right now, so there’s a chance someone you know has recently gone through the process. Ask a close friend who has bought a home for a referral. There are a lot of details to think about in finding a home in a fast-paced market that demands quick decisions. Sellers are accepting offers within a few days in the current market. Make sure you have exclusive representation, and don’t rely on a seller’s agent to represent you. You’ll want someone you can rely on and that you trust.
“Your realtor will guide you through the process. You can use their historical knowledge as long as you ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions,” said Kevin.
Buying the right home for you
With the inventory as low as it is and available homes getting sold every day, it can be tough to find a house that’s just right for you. Stay in frequent communication with your realtor, and when you find homes that you are interested in putting an offer on do additional research. Check recent sales on the block, as this will be an indicator of the present and potential future value. Think about how your potential home fits with the rest of the neighborhood.
Do research online using tools like the City of Minneapolis website. In the Property Information section you can access a lot of historical data such as the Truth in Housing report and inspection permits. This is a great tool if somebody is advertising home improvements like a new roof. You can check to make sure permits were pulled, and it was done by a licensed contractor.
“You want to find a home that at minimum holds its value,” Kevin shared.
Go back and look at a home more than once. If you are going to live there you’ll want to see what the neighborhood is like not just during the workday, but evenings and weekends. You’ll want to be aware of all of the activity, noise, and traffic. Picture yourself living there and consider all the details.
PRG Real Estate and Development Coordinator Kevin Gulden
Prepare your finances
Buying a home will likely be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. “If you’re shopping for a house and the seller has done a lot of improvements, be prepared for property taxes increasing,” Kevin shared. There are details that can be missed, especially in newer communities with the tax increases that come with new schools and new infrastructure.
Saving at least 3% of the cost of the home is a good goal. There are a lot of fees to consider when preparing to buy a home, and there are many fees that buyers forget. Having a strong savings will help with up-front costs like earnest money, appraisal fees, and a homebuyer inspection, which is another very important expense to save for.
“Get an inspection and don’t wait,” said Real Estate and Development Coordinator Erin Wilson. “A lot of people waive an inspection because it looks good to a seller in multiples,” she added about the various ways buyers reduce contingencies to leverage their offer.
An inspection is an additional expense, but is imperative to schedule one. It also provides a buyer an out if they find a major issue prior to closing. New construction homes may have a warranty to back any necessary repairs, but older homes often have needs that may be missed without an expert’s eye. The American Society of Home Inspectors or ASHI’s website is a great resource for finding certified home inspectors. When you schedule an inspection make sure you plan for around 90 minutes to review the home together. Look for the less obvious like water stains in the basement, check under the stairs, and pay attention to details in the unglamorous parts of the house. Look at the roof and sidewalks, and if snow is covering parts of the house, ask for photos from warmer months. Inspect every corner of your potential new home.
It is an exciting time to be a homeowner. Following these tips will help you through the process. Everyone at PRG is here to help and we wish you good luck on your journey home!
The DJ Steele Construction office feels like a family member’s home. The exterior of the South Minneapolis business blends into the other neighborhood homes. As I walked in I was greeted by the warmth of two smiling faces, both asking, “Are you here for Don Jr. or Don Sr.?” Don senior was taking a lunch break catching up on a Jamaican soap opera, reminiscing about the country his family immigrated from in 1981.
Don Sr. standing proudly in the office of DJ Steele Construction
“My father was a contractor. I worked for his company and learned carpentry skills. Then I went on to trade school in Jamaica,” Don Sr. shared. Ten years after coming to America he started DJ Steele Construction, and has built a company with his wife and sons that has lasted through tough times.
Don said he could have worked for bigger construction companies, but he wanted to start something of his own, with his family. But between lack of access to capital and a constantly changing economy the road to success hasn’t been easy. Like many families of color, securing financial resources, whether for a business or a home, can be met with barriers. “We were limited in the loans we could access. We could only get $10,000 when we needed $50,000, so we had to use our own cash to pay for projects. All we needed was a fair chance,” Joyce Steel said about building the company early on.
Joyce Steele showing Don who’s boss
During the Great Recession DJ Steele Construction, like many businesses, faced the decision to cross their fingers and keep grinding or to shut down. Nobody was building and cash stopped flowing, but PRG found opportunity where there was blight. “I give credit to our business staying alive during the recession to PRG. It was scary. We made just enough to pay bills, “said Don.
PRG is driven to narrow the homeownership gap and address racial disparities by working at the invitation of neighborhoods to rehabilitate vacant houses into beautiful homes to live in, and partnering with minority owned businesses for construction contracts. “PRG made a big difference on the North Side since back in the 90’s when nobody was doing anything. I was right there with PRG doing neighborhood revitalization,” Don shared about his long-lasting relationship with PRG.
For too long our communities have faced racial disparities that divide and displace individuals, families and neighborhoods. There is no silver bullet solution to these problems, but we can take small steps to chip away at these issues and support each other along the way. PRG is proud to share strong outcomes in our collaborative equity work in 2017 including:
- Acquired 5 lender- or city-owned, single-family homes for renovation and resale to low-and moderate-income households, bringing our 8-year total to 83.
- Acquired 4 city-owned vacant lots for new construction, bringing our total Green Homes North and infill partnership with Phillips in south to 17 new homes.
- 77% of single-family construction contracts awarded in 2017 went to minority-owned business and 22% went to women-owned businesses. Over the past 8 years, PRG has awarded over $12 million in single family construction contracts with 98% going to small, minority or women owned businesses.
- Sold 11 homes, all but one purchased by households of color, and bringing the 8-year total to 92. Of these, 82% of buyers had incomes under 80 % AMI.
- Provided 88 households with high quality rental housing affordable at 50% AMI.
Don Jr., Joyce, and Don Sr.
Don said he’s always believed strongly in housing as an essential human right, and in the need for quality, affordable housing. “I take pride in owning a home and building homes for others. A home guarantees assets and a future for your kids. In Jamaica we say your home is your castle.”
Here’s to DJ Steele Construction giving an opportunity for all families to have their own castle.
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.