Urban Homeworks: Fighting Foreclosures in North Minneapolis

It’s no secret that North Minneapolis has the highest rate of foreclosures in the city of Minneapolis. Urban Homeworks, a non-profit on the Northside wants to help change that.

They’ve been working with the banks and communities to re-hab some of the area’s worst houses.

“Our goal isn’t to take one of the nicest or nicer houses and make it even nicer,” says Steve Walden Project Manager at Urban Homeworks. “We usually go on the block and take the ‘dogs’ that nobody else wants.”

Walden says those houses are ones that might get torn down or stay a “piece of garbage” without the kinds of services Urban Homeworks provides.

“Redemption” for the homes and the people

It’s not just the homes in neighborhoods such as North Minneapolis that need help, the people who live there need help too. Urban Homeworks Development Director Ryan Peterson says they try to tackle both issues.

“For us, instead of getting it done as quickly as possible with subcontractors from wherever, we say OK how do we give value to individuals that are looking for a way to kind of enhance their life and can potentially take that job skill, develop it into something and change the entire legacy of their household and their family and become a little more self sufficient in their employment.

“So this thread of kind of ‘redemption’ is something we talk about through our entire process. This is one of those threads of saying how do we help restore value of a lot of those, young adults mostly, in our neighborhoods. And our construction training program is one way to do that.”

Brandon Dickson is one of the construction volunteers. He says he helps because north Minneapolis is his community “and I wanted to be a part of the solution.”

The results can be easily seen.

“The feeling you get when you walk down the block..it used to be every other house was either boarded, condemned or had been burned and now there’s this sense of community,” says Peterson.

Now community gardens populate the once vacant lots, providing a place for people to meet, talk and become less fearful of their neighbors.

“Urban Homeworks is not the silver bullet We’re not the answer for everything,” says Peterson “And that’s why we have to rely on our friends…. If we’re not working together it’s gong to be a lot harder to get where we want to go. “

Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera, originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif.,  studied media and Spanish at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she earned her bachelor s. Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has been a news producer for KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, communications coordinator for Twin Cities Public Television's arts series MN Original, and producer for the Association of Minnesota Public and Educational Radios Stations for the series MN90: Minnesota History in 90 Seconds.

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