Rebuild It Right in North Minneapolis: Quality Design Isn’t Just For Rich People

A day after the May 22nd tornado in North Minneapolis, North Minneapolis Raymond Dehn woke up and started wondering, “There are a lot of houses that have been hit. What can we do to rebuild the neighborhood?” The answer to that question is an organization called Rebuild It Right.

Dehn and another North Minneapolis resident and architect Alyssa Luepke-Pier put out a call to the design and architecture community in the city. They expected only a few to respond. Instead, they received more than 80 emails and phone calls from people willing to donate their time to help North Minneapolis residents advocate for quality design after the tornado ravaged their homes.

Not only is Rebuild it Right trying to help residents advocate for affordable, quality design, they’re also helping them to convince their insurance companies to pay.

In long run, quality housing is more affordable.

As Alyssa Luepke-Pier says, “We aren’t advocating for something that isn’t appropriate for these homes. We’re saying help the homeowner restore their homes to the quality that they already had instead of just doing the bare minimum.” That includes making the homes energy efficient so they are affordable to live in.

And, if insurance companies aren’t willing to do so, Rebuild It Right helped set up a hotline to Legal Aid to answer questions about what the insurance companies are required to cover.

“In other neighborhoods, the homeowner’s first instinct is to call an architect. Why shouldn’t it be the same in North Minneapolis? Quality design isn’t just for rich people. It’s for everyone,” says Luepke-Pier.

Besides helping homeowners advocate for themselves, Rebuild It Right also began an ambitious plan to re-envision North Minneapolis neighborhoods to make them more energy efficient and community oriented. That includes planting more trees and taking advantage of the solar energy available after many trees were lost to the tornado.

Says Dehn, “It’s Minnesota, we come together after a tragedy,”

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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