Historic Minneapolis Apartments to House Formerly Homeless Residents

A century after its construction, The Lonoke apartment building in Minneapolis is undergoing a renovation that development partners say is an important step toward ending homelessness in the city.

Minnesota-based developer Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative found strong neighborhood support for converting The Lonoke from market-rate apartments into 19 units of affordable housing for low-income households and formerly homeless individuals.

Lee Blons, Beacon’s executive director, credits local support for The Lonoke to the success of nearby Lydia Apartments, Beacon’s 40 units of supportive housing for people who have experienced homelessness. Blons said Lydia Apartments had to overcome significant neighborhood opposition when it opened in 2003, but that the tide has turned. She said the same property that was once protested is now recognized as an effective resource for addressing the city’s homelessness problem. “Things have changed so much now that there’s trust,” said Blons.

“It’s a full-circle story of what had once been a scary idea that is now understood and welcomed.” Building on the achievement of Lydia Apartments, The Lonoke will be renovated using low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) and federal and state historic tax credits (HTCs). The Lonoke will offer nine of its 19 units to households earning 30 to 50 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The other 10 units will go to residents who have experienced long-term homelessness. Some residents will be recommended by the local homeless shelter and others will be former residents of Lydia Apartments who are less dependent on supportive services. RESOURCE Inc. provides case management at Lydia Apartments and will also serve The Lonoke residents.

“At The Lonoke, we’ll work with individuals who have experienced more housing stability and we’ll offer an opportunity for them to be independent,” said Emily Bastian, RESOURCE director of care coordination. Bastian said services will be tailored to individual residents’ needs, such as housekeeping assistance, money management, educational services and job training. The Lonoke’s other service provider will be Simpson Housing Services. “Our service model is focused on building residents’ capacity for independent living,” said Steve Horsfield, Simpson’s executive director.

“The longterm effect [of The Lonoke] is we’ll see a series of people getting stabilized and rejoining our communities.” Others agreed. “Because of developments like The Lonoke, homelessness will continue to decrease,” said Lisa WilcoxErhardt, the executive vice president of housing and services of CommonBond Communities, the property manager of The Lonoke and Lydia Apartments. “We believe in working closely with service teams to create positive relationships with residents.”

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