ST. PAUL (Oct. 24, 2014) — Less than a year after breaking ground, a new house in Saint Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood is ready for the market thanks to a unique partnership between the City of Saint Paul, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota and Urban Homeworks, Inc. Fifty-six participants from Goodwill Easter Seals’ construction training program spent 3,900 hours building the two-story, single-family home, which will be sold by Urban Homeworks to an income qualified family.
“This partnership builds upon our commitment to breaking down barriers to homeownership and employment – and, in doing so, further promotes equity in Saint Paul,” said Mayor Coleman. “The construction skills gained by the dedicated crew who built this home will be invaluable to them and to their future employers. At the same time, this beautiful house – and the others that will be constructed through this partnership – will offer affordable housing options to Saint Paul families.”
Located at 462 Edmund, the home is one of four scheduled to be built in the neighborhood through the partnership. A financial boost of $200,600 was provided to the construction training program by the City of Saint Paul’s Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) Department to help increase the program to 200 participants annually. The coursework includes 12 weeks of combined classroom and hands-on instruction to prepare participants for a career in the construction trades. The program targets income-qualified women and people of color who face various obstacles to gainful employment. At the conclusion of the program, participants graduate with an OSHA 10 safety certification, Lead Abatement Worker certification, and 36 Continuing Education Units from Saint Paul College.
The City of Saint Paul’s compliance goals for the construction training include meeting economic equity benchmarks – all of which were exceeded on this project. Ninety-eight percent of the participants were low-income, 13 percent were women, and 80 percent were people of color. Over 30 percent of business contracting opportunities on the project were awarded to small, minority, and women-owned businesses.
“I am so proud of our community for coming together to strive towards economic equity,” said City Councilmember Dai Thao. “Frogtown Neighborhood Association played a key role in speaking with residents and getting them to participate in the construction training program. I thank Mayor Coleman for his leadership and city staff that helped make this initiative possible, and applaud Goodwill/Easter Seals and Urban Homeworks for their dedication and commitment in working with members of our community. Economic equity happens when the city listens to its residents and aligns policies, resources and partners. This home is proof we achieve great things when we do it together.”
“This partnership is a triple win for Saint Paul residents,” said Dr. Michael Wirth-Davis, President and CEO of Goodwill-Easter Seals. “Not only were we able to provide construction training and a career pathway, we increased the level of participation of Section 3 residents and provided affordable housing all in one partnership. This is only the first of four houses in Saint Paul that our students will be building in this collaborative project with Urban Homeworks, Inc. and the City of Saint Paul.”
The Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is selling vacant lots in Frogtown to Urban Homeworks for the construction of the homes and is also providing homebuyer assistance incentives of up to $5,000 depending on household income. Construction and gap financing is being provided by Twin Cities Community Land Bank and the Saint Paul HRA. All of the homes will conform to the Energy STAR and Minnesota Green Communities standards for new construction.
“Not a year ago, this spot was one of the many lots that our neighbors walk past in search of housing for their families. To see it now, knowing the impact the building process has had on those that framed and finished it, is inspiring,” said Chad Schwitters, Urban Homeworks President. “It is creating a new economic paradigm for us, the trainees, and the family that will soon build a new life inside of those walls. This is a huge beginning – a start – but it has to be the beginning of more creative, innovative partnerships like this. We owe it to each other and to those seeking opportunities to build a life that benefits their families and our communities.”
About Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota
Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota partners with agencies, businesses and individuals to eliminate barriers to work and independence. Together, we prepare people for work. In the past year, more than 30,000 individuals received 63,000 services. Services include our comprehensive, accredited Education and Training Courses in the automotive, banking, construction, contact center and medical office fields. The organization also provides individual case management, job placement, mental health services and assessment services to help people reach their goals for work and independence. Revenues from the community and its 35+ retail stores support these programs throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. For more information visit www.goodwilleasterseals.org
About Urban Homeworks
Since 1995, Urban Homeworks has been responding to the voices of our neighbors by providing dignified housing opportunities, creating space for construction training, intentionally weaving together a network of engaged neighbors, and mobilizing volunteers. Our focus on stability and connecting resources so that individual and communal assets emerge, thrive, and invigorate our neighborhoods has resulted in more than 200 redeveloped properties and a network of 17,000 volunteers, 1,200 construction trainees, and over 400 Urban Neighbors. For more information visitwww.urbanhomeworks.org