Casting a Safety Net for Stable Housing

A recent Family Housing Fund report took a close look at how Minnesota can work more collaboratively to build a stronger safety net to ensure more residents can live safely at home. What’s key in making this work is not only establishing more effective emergency financial assistance but surrounding homeowners with easy solutions to improve their quality of homeownership.

During the community engagement phase of the study, participants identified three main ways the system could change for better outcomes. First, fully fund emergency financial assistance programs, second, harness data to inform better decision-making, and finally, support stronger coalition building. 

Rebuilding Together Minnesota is a proven partner uniquely positioned to answer this call with a robust  coalition of partners who take an active role in providing safe and dignified housing for all Minnesotans.

The study notes that, “Minnesota is home to a strong housing advocacy network with a track record of legislative successes”; In fact, our work across Southwest Minnesota has grown to include partnerships with county services and investments from recent Statewide Affordable Housing Aid allocations. Coupled with a strong referral network, our partners and dedicated local staff have built a supportive coalition from which we continue to advocate for the support needed to better meet the needs of our neighbors. 

For more than 25 years, we’ve been serving supporting  housing equity, advocating for support,  and will continue  building  powerful community partnerships to ensure we continue to make affordable safe and dignified housing a reality for each and every Minnesotan.

See the entire report here and help us achieve the goals it sets forth!

Unlocking Minnesota’s Housing Gap

Access to safe and affordable housing is vital for Minnesota families and community well-being. However, with a lack of housing inventory. Adding housing stock, and skyrocketing prices, this continues to be one the biggest challenges for our state.

According to the Minnesota Housing Partnership’s (MHP) 2024 State of the State’s Housing Profile, more than a quarter of Minnesota families, including half of all households who rent, pay more than they can afford, and that number continues to grow.

In addition, housing instability continues to rise with evictions increasing 44% since pre-COVID years. According to the MHP report, there were 24,211 evictions filed last year – mainly since more and more homeowners and renters are paying beyond their means, combined with the fact that there are not enough affordable homes available. The report shares that more than 114,000 households are currently in need of affordable homes across our state.

To support our neighbors in need while remaining in their homes, we need to find more solutions to support home ownership over a longer period of time.

At Rebuilding Together Minnesota, our work provides critical home modifications that allows homeowners to remain in their homes and communities, safely. From simple installations such as grab bars, handrails, lighting and fire protection, to more significant improvements like new roofing, windows, landscaping, and accessibility ramps – our programs support stable, dignified housing that protects existing housing stock, stabilizing families and communities, building pathways to generational wealth over time.

This is extremely important as the cost of homeownership continues to push the limits of what’s attainable. In fact, MHP recently reported that the average homeowner in the state needs an annual household income of nearly $100,000 to afford a median-priced home.

Rebuilding Together Minnesota, along with corporate and state-led housing organizations, like the MHP, Minnesota Housing and the Department of Human Services, feel housing is a basic need that everyone should have access to.

While no organization or task force can shift the strain Minnesotan’s are feeling on their own, we are proud to be doing our part, supporting hundreds of our neighbors across the state with the critical improvements they need to weather the impacts of our changing housing landscape. These renovations are an important part of the solution that keeps our most vulnerable homeowners safe and secure.

Jackson Project Day Organized and Executed by Local Volunteer

We would like to send a special shout out to Dennis Bertram aka “Bert” who recently organized a project for a 95-year-old widow, Eleanor, whose front porch was rotting away and needed other repairs to her home. Eleanor and her husband were missionaries, donating most of their money and time to those in need and keeping just enough money to live on. A parishioner at their church has asked Bert if he could help Eleanor fix a broken door lock, but when he arrived at her home, he realized the home needed additional repairs. Bert organized the whole project day, including handling volunteer recruitment and support and overseeing the project days. The volunteers ranged in age from teenagers to mid-70s and the project provided a great opportunity to mingle and share. Bert also invited Eleanor and her daughter to visit his church, and the church community has whole-heartedly embraced Eleanor and her daughter. One of the parishioners even took them to lunch during one of the volunteer days.

Bert has been a remodeling contractor for more than 40 years and has been giving his time and talents as a carpenter for 15 years. He has been on mission trips all over the world, repairing homes in Puerto Rico, Saipan, Canada, Kentucky, and right in his own community. After flooding devastated Rock Valley, Iowa, he knew his talents and abilities as a carpenter weren’t just to make a living. He felt called to do more. Bert said, “The Bible says you should give 10%, but time is even more valuable than money.” He originally went to Rock Valley to help for a week, but ended up doing three more weeks. One of his last projects was a home with a young family with two little girls. Their bedroom was in the basement and had been flooded, so the girls were sleeping on the couch until the basement was repaired. They came home from school on the last day of the project with a drawing of a stick figure with a hammer and a note that read “thank you for giving my bedroom back to me.” Bert said that he realized this was God’s calling for him. He currently gives 8-9 weeks a year to eastern Kentucky during spring break to help make homes there warm, safe, and dry.

Our Program Manager Galen Kauffman reached out to Bert to see if he could assist with developing scopes of work, materials lists, etc. Bert went above and beyond. For our Jackson Rebuilding Day, he reviewed six projects in detail, developed scopes of work, and made lists of all supplies and tools needed for each project. He also recruited volunteer skilled House Captains for the six homes. According to Galen Kauffman, our Southwest Program Manager, “The success of our Jackson Rebuilding Day was in large part a credit to Bert. He has the vision, the ability, the connections, and the heart.”

Honeywell Team Builds Ramp for 17-Year-Old

Our amazing Honeywell Ramp Team recently built a ramp for a 17-year-old who uses a motorized wheelchair due to a hereditary disease that causes muscle deterioration.  Eight Ramp Team volunteers completed this ramp in one day! 

The ramp was constructed and installed in the garage.  According to long-time volunteer, Paul Parrish, this ramp was “quite different, well-designed, and a crafty workmanship ramp project.”  He went on to say the project was successful with a “happy family finish”!

We are so grateful to our Ramp Teams who are changing lives, one ramp at a time.  Thank you!