Introducing Emerson Village

Dylan Novacek August 17, 2020

Written by Lee Blons, CEO/President

I’ve been thinking a lot about rootedness lately. Like you, my life has felt disrupted these last six months. Some of those disruptions have been minor and inconvenient. Some have been large and required substantial shifts. All have impacted me.

But in the midst of a global pandemic and a national reckoning with race, I’ve found myself turning to those things which keep me rooted. My family. My faith. My community. My sense of purpose. My commitment to do what I can to help. My own sense of well-being. I can rely on these deep roots to steady me.

In another time of disruption, the Jewish prophet Jeremiah reminded his friends, his community, that rootedness would carry them through. His words ring true for me today:

“They shall be like a tree planted by water,

    sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

    and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

    and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

The homes of Emerson Village will be like soil for families where they can put down strong roots. When you have a home, you can create stability. When you have a home, you’re less afraid when the heat comes. When you have a home, anxiety is lessened and you can give back – bear fruit – for your community. Home is foundational to justice, to well-being, to possibility – to life.

And right now far too many of us don’t have the rootedness of home. Emerson Village is a step toward changing that.

Click here to watch Lee’s full remarks. 

Together, we are stepping forward to create homes for about 50 families in our community.

Emerson Village – the very name speaks to the power of togetherness! – can be a place in the Near North neighborhood of Minneapolis where deep roots can be planted by families who aren’t used to having a steady address. These are families with the lowest incomes. Families who are often Black, brown, or indigenous, those most impacted by our inequitable housing system. Families who likely have experienced homelessness.

Emerson Village will provide 52 deeply affordable apartments including 13 apartments that have three bedrooms. We seek to create a beautiful building that residents will be proud to live in and that will be an asset in the neighborhood. We will have an on-site playground for children to be able to play in under the watchful eye of their parents.

Most of the first floor will be dedicated to community space for families to gather. We know that having a caring, dedicated support staff person supporting the goals and dreams of families can make a world of difference. It’s why Emerson Village will have support services right on site so families can stay connected to the things that will help them plant deep roots and grow and thrive together.

Emerson Village is an ambitious undertaking. It takes private contributions from individuals, foundations and congregations to provide the initial seed money: $15,000 for each of the 52 homes we want to create. That seed money leverages the capital investment of $20 million by the city, the county and the state that it will take to build Emerson Village. I want to thank Minneapolis Public Housing Authority for making the first investment of committing rent subsidy so all of the homes will be deeply affordable.

Our values guide the creation of these homes. At Beacon, we believe that quality, affordable homes belong in all communities. It’s why we’re building family supportive housing in North Minneapolis with Emerson Village, in Hopkins at Vista 44, and in Shakopee with Prairie Pointe. Families deserve the dignity to choose what communities to deepen their roots in.

At Beacon, we’re focused on creating homes for people with the lowest incomes. This means we don’t judge people who can’t pay non-affordable rents. It means we accept people with evictions on their records. And it means we champion deep and bold solutions like our Bring It Home, MN rent subsidy legislation so everyone can afford the rent in the community they love.

And at Beacon, we believe in coming together as community. It’s why we’re a collaborative, because we know that working together makes more possible. It’s why you’re here tonight, because it will take each of us to make the dream of Emerson Village a reality. It’s why we want to be deeply planted in our communities, because having those roots lets us collectively bear good fruit even in challenging times.

Beacon has been part of the Northside community for years. We’ve listened to and experienced the stories of this vibrant neighborhood. Through our shelter program, Families Moving Forward, we’ve walked alongside nearly 1,000 families as they’ve faced homelessness. Many of them have come through the doors of our program center in North Minneapolis, and many of them have come from or moved into this neighborhood over the years. As the focus of our shelter program shifts to the growing need in Carver and Scott counties, others will be taking up the mantle to provide emergency shelter to families in Hennepin County who are experiencing homelessness. But through Emerson Village, we’ll be deepening our commitment to ending family homelessness by providing long term stable homes for families in North Minneapolis.

Do you believe that we do better when we can put down roots?  Do you think that home is a place for families to grow and blossom? Will you join together to plant the seeds of home so that as a community we can celebrate the fruits of our labor?

I’m excited to launch Emerson Village with you. In a time of disruption and anxiety, these homes can offer stability. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can provide rich soil and room for roots to grow. Together, we can see that all people have a home. Let’s move forward together!

We are doubling the amount our of Beacon homes, and Emerson Village is key in that growth. Join us and invite a friend to attend Beacon Now. Learn more about Emerson Village and how we are working to see that all people have a home. E-mail Craig Freeman for more info.