Rebuilding Neighborhoods | In the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of the Twin Cities, Urban Homeworks focuses the combined resources of individuals, churches, businesses, government entities and other nonprofits to transform foreclosed, condemned or boarded properties into dignified, quality places to live.
What does the “redemptive development of real estate” look like? If you took a poll of the block on Irving Avenue in north Minneapolis, people might point to the home on the corner. Built in the late ‘90s and an early victim of the foreclosure crisis, this house came to embody a daily nightmare for many of its neighbors after a drug dealer chose to set up shop in the first floor. The nightmare only grew worse when a rival dealer decided to literally light a fire in the basement to chase out the competition.
When Urban Homeworks acquired the burnt structure in 2011, it was with the intention of bulldozing it and saving the lot for future construction. Fortunately, an enterprising contractor pointed out that the building might not need to be sacrificed. So a crew from Jepson Inc. actually lifted the structure off its foundation, removed and repaired the fire damaged sections and lowered it back down. Amazingly, the overall cost for lifting the house into the air was $5,000 less than the estimated cost of bulldozing it. Over the next year, sub-contractors, volunteers, churches and trainees worked to redeem this house to its former beauty. What had once been blight on the community is now owned and occupied by Chris, Cassandra and their family (read their story here). The same halls that once echoed the sounds of feet running from police now support the feet of children running safely through their home.