Reconnecting People | Once a property has been restored, Urban Homeworks works to connect neighbor to neighbor to create a livable, robust community with a strong sense of home. The result is a rich exchange between households that reweaves a sense of community through day-to-day activities.
On a Saturday in early December, I attended a Holiday party for clients that I serve as a Housing Case manager. My clients live in housing owned by both Normandale Lutheran Church and Urban Homeworks through their partnership with Bethlehem Lutheran Church. It was a wonderful opportunity for us all to be in one place and celebrate togetherness, community and our combined missions of servicing individuals and families through community engagement that is linked by housing.
Over the course of 2 hours, we enjoyed brunch while swaying along to seasonal holiday and gospel music by Kimberly Brown and Guest. Families smiled together for portraits which were immediately printed and framed for them as an instant reminder of the delightful celebration. Children made holiday cards and reindeer cuts outs; there was creative chaos going on in every corner. Families left with a token of Normandale Housing Corp’s affection, a gift basket full of treats and household needs, such as Clorox cleaning wipes, paper towels, wash clothes, and cooking utensils.
As I looked around the room taking it all in, it felt like a complete circle. There were new friends and old, new and former tenants, many of whom started out in transitional housing with Normandale and later moved into homes that they bought and/or rent through Urban Homeworks. What I was seeing, was a system that works. Families housed through our partnership/connection with Normandale Lutheran Church and Bethlehem Lutheran Church stay connected, many continuing to live on our Elliot POD or moving on to be homeowners through PROJECT: Reclaim.
A few days later I sat with another co-worker who attended the same event and the real light bulb came on. This is it. This is what makes a community and when it is strong, this is how it feels, looks, breathes, smells and sounds. It is joyful. It is purposeful. It is meaningful.
Normandale and Bethlehem are critical partners to the work of Urban Homeworks - they have chosen to be one of the many tools in the community's toolbox and partner with us by using stable housing as a base for families to launch from. Together, we are seeing families move from transitional housing, to affordable rental housing, to homeownership! Click here for a glimpse of the work Normandale House is carrying out.