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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Urban Homeworks Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community & Neighborhood Development, Community Coalitions, Economic Development, Employment Preparation & Procurement, Homeless & Housing, Housing Rehabilitation, Job Training

Mission: Perpetuate the hope of jesus christ through innovative community development that produces equitable dignified housing, a strategic network of good neighbors and the redemptive development of real estate.

Results: Community Development in 2012: 252 family members live in Urban Homeworks housing. 56 Urban Neighbors are engaging in a program that challenges presumptions of poverty and the city. 107 community members are receiving training that can change the legacy of their family. 30 rental will be redemptively redeveloped from foreclosure. 8 homes will be completed to rebuild the foundation of focused areas, providing affordable home ownership

Geographic areas served: Disadvantaged neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.

Programs: Real estate development - acquisition of housing:urban homeworks has constructed, rehabilitated and managed scattered, multi-unit and single-family housing in distressed areas of minneapolis and st. Paul since 1995. We are unique in the twin cities in our focus on smaller, multi-unit rental properties. We have committed to this approach to building healthy neighborhoods through multiple access points in the housing ecosystem. Specifically, these properties, along with affordable single-family homes, provide critical access to family-sized rental properties and homeownership for our largest demographic of housing participants - families in need of 3 or more bedrooms. Since the organization was founded, it has rehabilitated, rented and managed over 170 units. Urban homeworks currently has a portfolio inventory of 119 multi-family rental units, 29 single family homes, and 12 vacant lots for future single family new construction. Rehabilitation of housing:our model for rehabilitating housing leverages our housing development and construction process to maximize the economic and social benefit to the communities we serve. Reclaiming abandoned/foreclosed properties is a cost-effective approach to increasing the housing supply in the twin cities. We have looked at our real estate development efforts and determined the investment can do more than just add much needed housing units; our affordable housing investments are directly tied to our efforts to trigger both a housing and economic recovery through partnerships, hands-on training and job creation. Through collaboration, our model is designed to expand economic opportunities and the economic impact of our work in the communities we serve through localized hiring of underutilized local, minority, female and section 3 subcontractors and trainees; deliberate training of individuals with barriers to work and at-risk youth; job connections and job creation. This component of our program ensures dollars invested in housing remain in the community in which they are intended to benefit - thus layering the impact of the housing development investment. All construction training completed on urban homeworks' worksites are done in partnership with our training partners: goodwill easter seals and tree trust's youthbuild programming. Construction skills trainees are male and female localized residents in our service area who are unemployed and low-income households and under employed prior to entry into the program. Many have barriers to full time employment prior to program participation. Construction skills training activities occur on our housing development work-sites. Through deliberate project design, we have embedded high-touch work force development with hard construction skills training. Volunteers are an essential component to our programming. In 2014, 1,188 volunteers worked alongside our subcontractors and trainees, donating 3,183 volunteer days on urban homeworks' job sites and to our programming efforts. In late 2013, as part of our effort to collectively grow the economic impact in our community, urban homeworks launched our urban construction company (uc2). Uc2 is a social venture designed to engage low-income, at-risk youth that have completed construction training through our partner tree trust and wish to work in the construction trades, but lack sufficient job experience to attain full-time employment. Our pilot provides paid, benefited position with deliberate job skill development specific to building codes and core building competencies of concrete/masonry, general carpentry and building processes. As we enter our second summer of the pilot, we have 100% retention of the initial cohort with an additional crew member added during the summer of 2014. The work sites are deliberately utilized as a space to learn with support. The uc2 staff are on-site as mentors and teachers while holding the crew responsible to the work. The hours spent alongside their mentors and their peers shingling roofs, paving driveways, building stairs and decks, etc. Has resulted in a level of experience and commitment that could not have been achieved in a traditional training program. Our model uses the experience of work well done to educate and motivate our crew. These "real-world" skills will serve them well as they enter into the construction trades, continue with their education or another chosen field of work.

rental programs -occupancy of housing:housing - rental programming - our restored units are well-built, maintained, affordable rental opportunities for individuals and families priced out of many twin cities rental markets. Partnerships with local social service organizations provide additional support by serving as advocates for the residents and providing necessary social services. Resources from these social service partners, combined with a supportive landlord and quality, dignified housing, weave a web of support for program participants. Through stable, dignified rental properties, individuals are able to become part of their community support structures, schools and economic opportunities. Housing - ownership programming - project: reclaim preserves existing affordable housing by capturing properties that have not been maintained as viable units by market forces, and restores them to their highest use: perpetually affordable homeownership opportunities that are contributing physical assets for the neighborhood. Project: reclaim mitigates the economic and social impact of underutilized, vacant and/or foreclosed single family homes. Project: reclaim hinges on a responsible contract for deed which allows families to begin living in the home while they participate in financial literacy training carefully designed to provide the opportunity for adequate credit repair and deep financial education tied to financial stability and home ownership. Families accepted into the program are coached extensively by urban homeworks' staff and commit to developing and executing a detailed, individual work plan starting with homestrech classes followed by pre-purchase classes at city of lakes community land trust, financial literacy/budgeting classes at buildwealth mn or lutheran social services and regularly scheduled monthly check-ins with urban homeworks' staff along with quarterly financial reviews to ensure financial goals and benchmarks are being met. The financial education commitment continues for as long as a participant is in the contract for deed program (typically 2-5 years). Unique to our model is our high-touch, real-world application of financial learning. We are connecting instruction to outcomes applicable to individual families. The depth of this combined learning/application experience creates true financial knowledge and long-range planning that extends to reducing debt, decreasing monthly housing related expenses, setting and adhering to a monthly budget, increasing credit scores and finding ways to increase or stabilize streams of income. The impact of our committed approach to financial literacy has resulted in improved financial health for our participants over time: " the average participant initial credit score is 560. " the average participant final/current credit score is 621. " the average credit score increase is 61 points. " the average annual increase is 42 points. (participants' time in programming varies). Northside home partnership is programmatically similar to project: reclaim, but is specific to north minneapolis. In partnership with project for pride in living, urban homeworks will purchase and renovate over time a total of 100 single-family homes. The homes will be rented to families; households will attend financial training until they qualify for a mortgage to purchase the home. All homes will ultimately be sold to owner occupied households. Community engagement:urban homeworks' approach to community engagement is rooted in the goal that all programs we operate are inextricably linked to the authentic expression of the community's vision. Through a continual feedback loop from acquisition through occupancy, we are building a collaborative web of dovetailed expertise to collectively build sustainable, equitable solutions across the social and economic continuum of the twin cities. Engagement work happens on a resident level through informal and formal networks, neighborhood events, connections with resources in the community, participation in urban homeworks planning and work, and many other opportunities as our pods grow organically and respond to real-time conditions. Pod areas are determined by having both high instances of housing instability and a high need for engagement to build community networks. As part of our community engagement effort, we have developed our unique urban neighbors program which places "urban neighbors" in one unit of a small multi-family building, typically a duplex, triplex or fourplex. The urban neighbor community is a faith-motivated, ministry-of presence experience for college students and working professionals. Urban neighbors volunteer 2-3 hours per week under the leadership of other organizations already working in the community. To date, these hours have been served at more than 40 nonprofits including dinomights, kinship, english learning center, american indian oic, neighborhood schools and churches, and many more.

other programsincludes other community development activities not directly related to the rental or real estate development programs, but are in line with the organization's mission.

Community Stories

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer, I came onsite hoping to do my thing, feel good, and get outta there - on to the rest of my life and back to my schedule. I expected I'd walk away feeling bad about the amount of need in certain communities. Instead, I walked away completely humbled by the information that I was given, the "Doodle", the beautiful people that are intentionally building and inhabiting stronger neighborhoods, and the degree to which Urban Homeworks staffers are enmeshed in it all. I walked away inspired and reevelauting my agenda in the first place. I look forward to going back and to supporting this strong organization.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work nationally as a consultant and trainer to housing development nonprofits. These travels allow me to have many conversations with leadership and front line staff in all parts of the country with regard to best practices, challenges, and sustainable impact. Urban Homeworks is by far the most creative, productive, and innovative community development organizations in the entire country. And to top it all off, they do what they do in true parttnership with the entire community and with a faith-based mission in the heart of the city!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been supporting Urban Homeworks for over a decade, and as a 100 Gives 100 monthly donor for 5 years or so. Here's why: I find myself "refreshed" and impressed how they creatively approach challenging issues in their target communities. Lets be honest: there does not seem to be a whole lot of creativity or innovation coming from most non-profits or ministries when it comes to addressing the issues/needs in poor communities. But time and time again Urban Homeworks is creatively combining marketplace expertise with informed compassion with impressive outcomes. Well done!

Ron_17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm not an "evangelist" but I feel I make a difference by volunteering with Urban Homeworks to renovate homes and apartments that benefit people who normally couldn't afford dignified housing. One house, one apartment at a time we are making a difference and improving the lives of others. Urban Homeworks is a concientious steward of the donations they receive, always working to maximize the benefit of donations through volunteer labor and great leadership.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Urban Homeworks is the one organization that our members at Westbrook Community Church love to volunteer for and to support! From top to bottom the Urban Homeworks staff is top-notch and passionate about their mission within the community, neighborhood and families that they serve. They utilize their resources in a manner that is unmatched and you will not find a better non-profit organization. All in the name of Christ - Yeah!

Donor

Rating: 5

We have had UHW on our list of favorite non-profit organization for more than five years. As members of Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, it has been a great joy to participate in several work weekends and with the QuickSilver volunteers. UHW's impact on their community has been considerable, not only in housing, but most assuredly on the lives of many. One Hudred for a Hundred, a rent subsidy program, has been very successful.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family and I have been donating financially and with our "talents" to Urban Homeworks for 4 years now, and have witnessed the dramatic and real impact this group has on dignified housing and community building in Minneapolis. The group is forward-thinking and operates beyond the four walls they are dedicated to putting around people/families. Their commitment to neighborhood as a state of being is inspiring and effective. Please help to support this incredible organization.

Glen C.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My involvement with Urban Homeworks began over two years as a result of a St Marks fundraiser. Over the past two years, I have volunteered twice a week and have observed firsthand how this organization has helped build community and restore housing in North Minneapolis. They have provided gainful employment, mentoring opportunities, and both work skills and life skills to various individuals (and organizations) in the community. Along the way, I have also increased my own home building/restoring skills and learned how to use power tools more effectively. Keep up the good work!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to work with Urban Homeworks last year. I really admire the difference they are making in the community for so many people. This is a great organization to donate your time with. They are able to use any level of help with their projects. I painted and cleaned a home and had a great time with the other volunteers. It is really important to get involved in our communities and this is a fantastic way to do it! I highly recommend donating some of your time to this great organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with UHW for about 3 years now, I started doing it with my church and now have become the contact between other volunteers at my church and UHW. This is a great place for men and women to get involved no matter what your skill level is. I like that aspect of it because it allows a diverse group of people to get out, be in Minneapolis, and doing something productive with their hands. I love that they always share the story of who UHW is and what they are trying to do, this not only allows volunteers to know that they are needed and appreciated but also know what role they play in the bigger picture. I have enjoyed working with many people at UHW and look forward to finding more ways for our church to get involved through making gift baskets, connecting with other inner city churches, and hearing the stories of hope coming out of this organization!

Chris98

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Our men's small group from EBC has volunteered twice with Urban Homeworks and we have found it to be a fun and rewarding way to serve God through the community. The people are fun and laid back but still focused on getting the job done and creating a better Christ centered community of people helping people. Thanks to all at Urban Homeworks for allowing us to help out.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Being a member of Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina and hearing the impact that Urban Homeworks has had on the community is inspring. I plan to volunteer to help with their mission next summer. Urban Homeworks truly makes a difference.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a volunteer at Urban Homewoorks and part of a group of senior guys that really enjoy working on the various projects. To see the transformation of houses starting with the demo and ending with the "punch list" to finish various tasks is amazing and, we have a ton of fun while doing it. I've mentioned to leadership that, having lived in the Twin Cities for over 30 years, Urban Homewoorks is the best kept secret and shouldn't be such. What this organization does to offer affordable housing while revitalizing neighborhoods is outstanding. I'm just happy to be a small part in making that happen.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with the Quicksilver Crew for about four years, working as often as I can make it with the Tuesday crews working on house renovations in the North Minneapolis neighborhood near Urban Works headquarters. Not only has the experience of helping prepare the properties for occupancy been very rewarding and inspiring, but the fellowship with the Urban Homeworks staff and the dedicated guys on the crews has been amazing. Rick Person

Ben J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Ben Jaworski, and I have volunteered with Urban Homeworks both in the office and on-site with some of the renovations. Initially, I was a volunteer draftsman for Urban Homeworks. I chose them for my internship so I could finish my degree in Architectural Drafting. After I caught them up on their renovation plans, I got to help with some of the actual remodeling, even on some of the home I myself had been in and drafted. It was amazing to see just how fast the changes could take place, and how hard everyone was working. Then, after a few months of renovating, they acquired more houses that needed drafts, and they hired me as a private contract draftsman for three homes. It has been an honor to serve with Urban Homeworks. My only regret is that I was not there for the tornado relief effort, for which UHW has received a lot of praise from the communities. Urban Homeworks is a wonderful organization. When they need something done in the office, they don't just send an email, or try them on the phone, they walk to that person's office and get the task done as soon as possible. They hold weekly meetings so that everyone involved is up-to-date on the current happenings at UHW, and get progress reports on renovations. They are a wonderful organization, and I am happy to have worked with them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over the past year, I've become a donor, volunteer and admirer of UH. I've been impressed at the organization's intense focus on their mission. As a business executive, I appreciate how effectively and diligently UH goes about their work - being excellent stewards of donors funds. I applaud their ability to wrestle with the changes brought on by their rapidly expanding operation.

Kari D.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a neighbor in North Minneapolis I have the privilage to live near many of Urban Homework's houses. Any organization can rehab a building but Urban Homeworks rehabs neighborhoods by the quality work they do, engaging the community during the transformation of a building and challenging those who become an Urban Homeworks resident to be part of the solution for the surrounding blocks. If North Mpls had more organizations like this you wouldn't be hearing such bad things on the news about the "Northside" but rather a transformation. From top down the folks at Urban Homeworks are top notch as experienced first hand and your dollar if donated here will go further than you would ever imagine.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

No matter what happens the rest of the week, I know that when I head to an Urban Homeworks work site on a Saturday morning, it will be a good day. I was fortunate to see the evolution of a property that seemed like it was barely habitable to a wonderful, multi-family dwelling that was getting comments from neighbors and passersby on what an amazing transformation took place after Urban Homeworks acquired the property. God Bless !

Donor

Rating: 5

When I consider how to make a positive difference in our community, I think immediately of Urban Homeworks. The people of UHW have the right heart and have developed the ability to effectively and consistently serve our city. I have complete confidence that every hour and dollar we provide them will be used to strengthen families and individuals in meaningful, powerful and lasting ways. UHW does big work and it's an unsurpassed delight to be one of their many partners.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The dedicated and faithfilled staff of Urban Homeworks makes it a priviledge to work with them. They inspire each other and the volunteers as well as their clients. Urban Homeworks is an extremely valuable asset to the Twin Cities and provides hope for a better future for individuals as well as the cities as a whole.