Sometimes, when a builder proposed an affordable housing development, neighbors panic, because they don't know what the project will be like. Now, local group PORTICO is offering Southwest Minneapolis residents a chance to learn, with tours of their Nicollet Square development in Kingfield.
"Our Executive Director often says that we want people to come who think of Cabrini Green when they hear 'affordable housing,'" PORTICO spokesperson Sarah Mollet told Patch, referring to a poorly-maintained, crime-ridden former housing project in Chicago. "We want to show them another way you can do affordable housing, that it can really be beautiful and healthy for the neighborhood."
Now in its second year of operation, Nicollet Square offers homeless youth or youth who grew up in the foster care system an affordable place to live that's invested in their success. Residents are able to access a number of supportive services on-site, from career help to counseling, and generally use the stability of a roof over their heads to get their lives started.
One extra perk: Butter Bakery Cafe, which recently re-located to the ground floor of Nicollet Square, offers three residents paid internship-type jobs in their bakery and kitchen, where they can learn the tricks of the trade.
The hour-long events will be held on Nov. 27. Specific times have not been set, but interested people should contact PORTICO's Marlys Huismann for more information.
Tours will feature meetings with some Nicollet Square residents and will also include some activities to help visitors get a feel for what it's like to live out of a backpack.
"We wanted to offer the tours so people could meet other people who've experienced homelessness, and see the positive changes that can take place once you have the stability of the home," Mollet said. "And we want people to leave and say 'I've just got to tell someone about this. I want something like this in my backyard.'"
PORTICO is currently looking to partner with community and faith groups to create more affordable housing in the suburbs, modeled on Nicollet Square.