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Great River Landing: An Enthusiastic Neighborhood Welcome
June 22, 2017

When Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative (formerly Plymouth Church Foundation) was building Lydia Apartments for tenants with mental health challenges, neighbors were so unhappy about the plans that they picketed the church every Sunday morning. Times have changed! The North Loop Neighborhood Association Board at its last meeting voted unanimously in support of Great River Landing (GRL) apartment building, the 72-tenant supportive housing that Westminster—in cooperation with Plymouth Congregational Church and Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative—will build at 813 N. 5th St. in Minneapolis.

Better Futures MN will provide the on-site supportive services for tenants, the key element in our other successful affordable housing developments. Better Futures uses a holistic approach to the housing, employment, and health barriers these men face when they re-enter society after incarceration. Tenants of GRL will be single adult men who have chosen to live in a supportive community with others who have also chosen to make changes in their lives and who are committed to becoming good workers, good parents, and good citizens.

Who’s already on board? The neighborhood association; 2020 Partners, a group representing downtown businesses in the area, including Target Field and Target; the three Minneapolis City Council members whose districts include or abut GRL; and key legislators who have supported our petitions at the state level.

What have we already accomplished? Our GRL Task Force, made up of Plymouth and Westminster members and Beacon staff, has been working for nearly four years to choose a population with significant barriers to housing, to find an excellent services partner whose strategies exemplify best practices in this field, and to design a building where our programs can flourish. As we have been dreaming and planning and working, the local, state, and national spotlight has increasingly been focused on problems related to incarceration and recidivism and how to help those who have served their time become productive citizens. We are ahead of the curve! We have already secured the $17 million in capital funding needed to build GRL and hope to break ground within the year.

Why?

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” —Cornel West 

John Watson
John Watson is a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis and sits on the congregation's Faith In Action Council. This originally appeared in the June 2017 edition of Westminster News.