In recent months, families who have lived for years in six townhomes at 35th and Bloomington have been returning to a completely renovated and updated building.
The six-unit multi-family property had been in disrepair before the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority took possession from the prior owner in September 2017. Within a couple of months, MPHA helped three families move into other public housing that was more suitable for their needs; two others took other temporary relocation options as MPHA began deep renovations on the townhomes. Property Manager Kari Lee was able to help one family stay on-site throughout, as their daughter relied on the accessibility of a ground-floor bathroom and bedroom while she healed from a broken leg and surgery.
Halima Samatar, who recently graduated from the U of M and is now attending Rasmussen College for nursing, is number four of Elmi and Jawahir’s eight children to have grown up in this South Minneapolis property for the last 15 years.
“We’re accustomed to this area in south Minneapolis, so nothing has changed in that aspect. To come home and still know where your home is, is great,” Halima said. “This is the definition of home, where you’ve lived all your life. This is all I know—the park, the stores. We’re thankful that we get to live here.”
Halima’s family has been very appreciative of the improvements, noting that the removal of carpet, expanding the kitchen, and new appliances have really made a difference. And as Halima works on her nursing degree, she has a bigger goal in mind: “Finish school, pay off loans, and then hopefully move out of here and buy a house for the parents that worked so hard to get us here.”
Property Manager Kari was also integral in seeing the project from start to finish, all the way down to picking out exterior finishings and landscaping, helping bring a fresh look to the Powderhorn Park property. Almost all of the renovation work—including kitchen overhauls, skimming the walls, fixing duct work, and new lighting, flooring, doors, and bathroom vanities—was done in-house by MPHA staff, with the finishing touches completed by October of this year.
“From fencing to maintenance to construction to landscaping, it’s really something to be proud of,” said Regional Property Manager Anthony Rowe. “It was really our painters, our carpenters, our laborers, our property manager all getting together to make this project work.”
The central location with a bus stop out front and schools nearby make the units a perfect fit for the families who have moved in. One unit went to a family from elsewhere in public housing, who Assistant Property Manager Malik Yusuf knew had been struggling with upkeep at their single-family home situated on a hill. The head-of-household suffers from physical limitations and has young children, so the townhome unit means she can focus on taking care of her family and be a successful tenant.
“The development was really a community effort,” said Anthony. “This project needed a lot of work and a lot of care, and I think people in the community are seeing that public housing took this over, looking at how nice it is now and how we’ve revitalized that corner.”