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 oubanistert PRG’s monthly Home Tips blog: HomeTips

 

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.

PRG work siteNeeraj 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.

Tour group at Spirit on Lake

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.

Quatrefoil Library at Spirit on Lake

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.

 

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.
PRG original founders

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.

PRG-developed home on James Avenue

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!

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.

1816 Queen Ave (before)

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.

1816 Queen Ave (after)

PRG has been renovating and building single-family homes since 1988. The changes are pretty dramatic!

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Single family homeIn 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.

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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. Maynidoowahdak Odena

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.

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1980s single family homeAfter 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.

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This home is being developed in partnership with Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association.exterior siding going up Interior in progress  garage  Interior in progress

Everyone is talking about the hot housing market in the Twin Cities. The number of home listings in the metro area is at an all-time low and the shortage of available houses is even more severe for those homes priced for first-time buyers.

When dealing with a market like this, it pays to be prepared.

Our home ownership advisors suggest:

1) Attend a homebuyer workshop 
Homebuyer workshops, such as the HUD-approved HomeStretch Workshops offered by PRG, help you understand the home buying process even before you begin to go to open houses.

2) Meet with a homebuyer counselor
Knowing what you can afford—and what you can’t—will save you time and heartache. PRG offers free, one-on-one counseling that can help you assess your financial picture and determine what price range of home fits with your lifestyle.

3) Get pre-approved for a mortgage
When you know that you’re approved for a mortgage (and for how much), you will not only have a better experience shopping for the right home but your offer on a home will be viewed more favorably by the seller.

Still have questions about getting started in this market? Contact one of our home ownership advisors.

The big old house on Lyndale Avenue north sat vacant for six years, looking for too long like this:

2719-before

Neighbors worried about the house: how much further it would fall into disrepair, whether it would become a site of crime and vandalism. When PRG purchased the house and began work on renovating it, people were vocal about their relief. Neighbors posted in the Old North Minneapolis Facebook group:

“2719 Lyndale Ave. N. is being extensively renovated right now! We have been waiting six years, but it’s finally happening!”

“The great thing about PRG doing it is that they intend to restore the original exterior….The exterior is all that remains that is original, but a fabulous exterior it is.”

Today, the house looks like this:

2719after

(note on buyer or sale).

This renovation and affordable resale was made possible by project funding and financing from the City of Minneapolis / CPED, Minnesota Housing, and Twin Cities Community Land Bank.

We are very excited to showcase one of our recently completed Green Homes North homes on the 2015 Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour, April 25-26. If you go on the tour, look for this beautiful home at 1811 Girard in the Near North neighborhood of Minneapolis.
PRG's Executive Director, Kathy Wetzel-Mastel, with General Contractor, Anderson Mitchell of Mitchell Construction, inside 1811 Girard, a PRG Green Homes North project on the 2015 MSP Home Tour.

PRG’s Executive Director, Kathy Wetzel-Mastel, with General Contractor, Anderson Mitchell of Mitchell Construction, inside 1811 Girard, a PRG Green Homes North project on the 2015 MSP Home Tour.

This  three-bedroom, 1.5 bath home was built by trusted non-profit developer PRG, Inc. and North Minneapolis based Mitchell Construction as part of the City of Minneapolis Green Homes North Program. With over 1,800 finished square feet, this home boasts an open and spacious floor plan along with space for a future family room, bathroom, and bedroom on the lower level. As part of the Green Homes North Program this home offers many green features including: Energy Star windows, doors, shingles, lighting, and appliances. Other green features include water-conserving plumbing fixtures, low-VOC paints and adhesives, and  FSC-certified framing material. Annual energy savings for this home are estimated to be half of what it costs for an average, existing home. Traditional detailing helps this home blend naturally with the surrounding historic neighborhood which boasts  a mix of architecture, beautiful parks, easy access to downtown, and close proximity to all the great things city life has to offer.

One afternoon in July, PRG staff had a chance to show off one of the first completed homes we’ve built with support from the City of Minneapolis Green Homes North program.

Staff from other Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers organizations, along with a few neighbors, came in to see the finished home at 2511 James Ave. N. (Click that link for interior photos.)

On hand to answer questions were PRG project manager Kevin Gulden and contractor Anderson Mitchell of Mitchell Construction, based nearby.

Another special guest was Dan Haugen of Certified Wood Products in Maple Lake Minnesota. As part of the Green Homes program, PRG decided to pursue using sustainably harvested lumber … a goal we quickly realized might present a challenge, as many who responded to our RFP were suppliers based in all corners of the country, where shipping costs would be prohibitive. We were glad to discover and work with this nearby vendor, who has traditionally worked with larger developers but was eager to be a part of building these green homes in the city.

tour photo 2 tour photo 1

P1110715At the end of 2013, we celebrated the completion of Spirit on Lake, the region’s first affordable housing designed to be fully open and welcoming for GLBT seniors.

The October 30 grand opening event included a performance by Calliope Women’s Chorus, as well as resident-let building tours. A program, emceed by transgender activist and longtime Spirit on Lake leader Barbara Satin, included the many partners who made the project possible, including PRG executive director Kathy Wetzel-Mastel, Andriana Abariotes of LISC, representatives of US Bank, City of Minneapolis Director of Housing Tom Streitz, Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, Bob Boyd of Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Representatives Karen Clark and Scott Dibble, and Living Table UCC Pastor James Pennington.

As one of the first buildings of its kind in the country, Spirit on Lake continues to be of local and national interest; Representative Keith Ellison recently toured the building and met with residents, and recent articles in the Twin Cities Daily Planet and Huffington Post bring to life what Spirit on Lake means to many of the residents.

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Search for an affordable, three- or four-bedroom apartment in midtown Minneapolis, and here’s what you might find:

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.29.12 PM

There are a few choices, but nowhere near the volume you’d hope to see, especially in a neighborhood with more and more large, working families, including thriving east African and Latin American immigrant communities. In a rental market with low availability and high prices in general, the problem appears to be even larger for families with many children.

Greenway Heights Family Housing, being developed by PRG and Phoenix Development in partnership with the East Phillips neighborhood, responds to this need. Under construction now, the building will consist of 42 apartments, all with two, three, or four bedrooms, on the Midtown Greenway and in close proximity to many transit options and amenities.

We’ll be posting more photos and updates as construction progresses. For now, we’ll celebrate  progress (excavation began this week) and the architect’s sketch of the building, scheduled for completion by fall 2014.

greenway sketch

 

 

The City of Minneapolis put together this neat video about why it’s great to live in north Minneapolis, and we’re glad to help spread the word!

PRG also works all the time with our partners at Harrison Neighborhood Association and Jordan Area Community Council to make sure current neighborhood residents are in the loop about affordable home ownership opportunities like Green Homes North. It’s a great thing when a family can buy a high quality home, affordably, without leaving the community they love. This is one of the reasons we’re so active in publicizing our home ownership education and counseling programs to the communities around the houses we develop … knowledge about the homebuying process helps renters get ready to take advantage of opportunities like this.

The same day as the Green Homes North Building and Design Expo, you’ll have a chance to visit PRG’s latest beautifully rehabbed home, 1715 Hillside Avenue North (click that link for a peek at the beautiful woodwork and built-ins).

The home will be open from noon to 3pm as part of a NoMi home tour. Stop by 1715 Hillside for a close look at this great home and a list of other homes on the tour, or contact Erin for more information.

hillside before after

Before the snow flies this winter, PRG plans to start construction on two new single family homes as part of the City of Minneapolis Green Homes North program. These homes are the first two of six affordable, energy efficient, new homes PRG will be building in the next year.

We’ll be at the Green Homes North Building Design and Product Expo on Sunday, September 22. Stop by to say hello, take a chance at winning door prizes every half hour, and see examples of some of the homes PRG will be building, as well as exhibits from other green home developers and local businesses.

2511 James2530 James

Spirit on LakeThe building is finished, the first residents have moved in, and Quatrefoil Library will begin the move into its new home on the ground floor next month.

Spirit on Lake‘s affordable apartments are the result of many years of work, innovation, and generosity, initiated and sustained by GLBT Generations, and co-created by Living Table UCC, PRG, Inc., and Everwood Development. Open to all, the community is and will be a truly welcoming place for GLBT elders.

We’ll be sharing more soon about a late October grand opening celebration.

For now, drive by 13th and Lake for a peek at the beautiful new building, and join us in thanking the project funders who made this possible: The City of Minneapolis, City Real Estate Advisors, Family Housing Fund, Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, Hennepin County, Living Table UCC, Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Minnesota Housing, US Bank, and Twin Cities LISC.

Meet the previous homeowner of 30 years and the couple who just moved in. The story of the PRG-rehabbed home starts about two minutes in, but the first part of the video gives a nice sense of the surrounding community and the value the neighbors place on taking good care of this house. Thanks to the Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour for producing such a beautiful video.

ImageWe’re happy to announce that Spirit on Lake will be the new home of Quatrefoil Library, one of the oldest GLBT lending libraries in the country.

A lease signed earlier this month firmed up plans for Quatrefoil to move from its home of 20 years in St. Paul’s Richards Gordon office building into the 2,700 square-foot commercial space on the new building’s first floor.

The library has outgrown its current location; the new space will double its size. And the move to 13th and Lake will make the library more visible and convenient to more potential patrons, including, of course, the future residents of Spirit on Lake.

Quatrefoil’s collection includes thousands of books, periodicals, and audio and video recordings reflecting GLBT and Queer experiences, including materials on coming out, community organizations, historical events, great GLBT literature and non-fiction, local resources, news and current events impacting the GLBT community, and entertainment.

The library’s mission is to collect, maintain, document and circulate gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer materials and information in a safe and accessible space, in order to promote understanding, an appreciation of diversity and history, and the value of communities.

As non-profit organization, Quatrefoil runs on volunteer labor, donations, and member dues. The library welcomes non-members to visit and browse, but requires a membership (starting at $40/year, or $25 for students and seniors) to check out materials. Quatrefoil will  launch a fundraising campaign in 2013 to assist with moving expenses and space improvements.

Last weekend, not one but THREE newly renovated houses in a three-block area of Willard-Hay and Near North were open for neighbors to visit.

The renovations—at 1723 Irving (still in progress), 1819 Girard, and 1822 James (before and after photo below)—are funded by the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and carried out by PRG, working primarily with local and minority-owned contractors.

About 25 people, including the future owners of 1723 Irving, stopped to tour the homes and talk with PRG staff. Many expressed excitement about the completed renovations, and several mentioned the positive change; two of the homes had been sites of problem behaviors and/or had been vacant for a long time.1822 before after

In addition to reinvesting in a neighborhood that has experienced large numbers of foreclosures, a major goal of the renovations is to provide affordable opportunities for ownership of high-quality homes. Rehab work on each home has the goal of needing no major repairs in the first years of home ownership, and care is taken to improve energy efficiency, abate hazardous materials like lead and asbestos, and improve indoor air quality. The result is an affordable home ownership opportunity that compares favorably to homes available on the market for a similar price.

1723 Irving and 1819 Girard are pending sale; 1822 James is still on the market for $139,900. Contact Erin for more information.

open-house-1open-house-2

Over the past two years, PRG has renovated two vacant, foreclosed homes on the 2400 block of James Avenue North. The new homebuyers are not just enjoying beautiful, affordable houses in a neighborhood they love; they’re also part of an increasingly strong community; in August, the block held its first National Night Out party in a decade.

See the proud neighbor manning the grill in this KARE11 News video from that evening? He’s a PRG homebuyer.

The house on 25th Ave. S. went on the market earlier this week. Soon, a lucky homebuyer will have a tip-top, affordable place to call home. More photos to follow.

Work continues at the house on 25th Avenue. Aside from lots of interior progress, last week contractors dashed the stucco.

Look closely, and you’ll also notice a unique touch: a bike rack. The house is within two blocks of a newly marked bike route and close to Lake Hiawatha. Commuting by bike might be a great option for this house’s new owners (when we find them) and their friends and visitors.

 

What does PRG’s rehab process look like?

Here’s an example: this little house on 25th Ave., not far from our office in south Minneapolis.

Last week workers removed aging siding to find … stucco! Stucco in need of work, but stucco nonetheless. Watch over the next few weeks as this house goes from eeeeww to aaah.

PRG project manager Kevin Gulden is overseeing the rehab. Here’s his report on what’s already done:

Windows are in (minus new storms) kitchen is in, walls are painted and flooring is going in next.  Garage to be demolished any day.  Rehab will be done in one month.

Stay with us and watch it happen!

Meet one of the latest families to buy a house rehabbed by PRG: Venessa and Crystal, pictured here without camera-shy six-year-old son Felix, but with sweet dog Parker. The family moved in January to this Midtown Phillips house—renovated by PRG and made more affordable by the City of Lakes Community Land Trust.

They’d been living in a “quaint, very small” apartment in Powderhorn, an area to which they were committed. Crystal’s job at a nearby nonprofit, as well as lots of community connections, made them want to stay in the area. “It’s a great part of town,” says Venessa with fondness. “So vibrant and weird.”

Home ownership had been a dream, and they looked at a handful of market-rate houses last summer, but the quality and affordability here were beyond compare. Even with Venessa’s reduced employment after funding cuts at the arts organization where she’d worked for 10 years, buying this renovated home was a real option.

Venessa and Crystal can list wonderful things about the house faster than I can write them down: beautiful, completely renovated, new roof, new appliances, new furnace. Well put together. A gift. Life changing.

They describe the “awesome team of advocates” from PRG and the City of Lakes Community Land Trust. “It was a charmed process,” said Venessa, and told how little stress they felt during the process, a surprise after hearing stories of friends’ harrowing home purchases.

“I still don’t believe it,” Crystal said, “It’s really too good to be true. It’s like a magical spell happened.”

It felt like magic, but the move to home ownership also took some real guts on the part of Venessa and Crystal. Both are first-time homeowners, with parents who purchased homes later in life; it’s not a process or institution that either of them grew up with. Crystal grew up in Navy housing or renting in the cities where her dad was serving. Venessa lived in the Minneapolis area with a single mom, always renting.

“Now we’re learning how to own a home,” Venessa says. “To be able to give this to my kid feels really, really good.”

On PRG-rehabbed houses in Minneapolis, 50% of skilled and 79% of unskilled labor has been done by workers of color, many of them residents of Minneapolis.

That means hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in significant economic opportunities for the people and communities most negatively affected by the recession.

By proactively advertising work opportunities to contractors who are Minneapolis residents and people of color—and by working supportively with small business owners—PRG adds another bottom line to our mission-driven work. The product of housing redevelopment stabilizes neighborhoods and helps families prosper. The process—the work itself—does the same for those whose skills and labor make that physical redevelopment possible, so more dollars stay in the community they’re intended to benefit.

  • I’m very happy to see that poor, abused house, vacant for so long, get reclaimed.

    Sandy, NE Minneapolis
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