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A place to land for families

Opening later this spring, the Vista 44 community in Hopkins will prioritize units for families in need of housing. The effort is part of the county’s 10-year goal to create 1,000 new units for populations experiencing the most significant challenges to housing stability.

Twenty units are prioritized for families involved with child welfare due to parental substance use, while the remaining 30 units will house families exiting homelessness through Coordinated Entry.

At a time when family shelters continue to be at high capacity, increasing the number of low- or no-barrier housing options for families is pivotal. Combining that housing with support services that help families stabilize and become self-sufficient is life changing.

“We’re giving families a place to land where they can get out of crisis mode,” said Morgan Wylie, principal planning analyst in Housing Stability. “We know from the data that when folks have capacity to think about things like employment, education or their children’s development, that’s when improvements start happening.”

visa fourty four building outside

Volunteers of America, a national human services nonprofit, will provide immediate and long-term supports for Vista 44 residents to address behavioral health, independent living skills and workforce development. Families will be able to stay as long as they need to stabilize and achieve their goals.

Children and Family Services held focus groups with mothers exiting treatment facilities to gather feedback on the types of services they would like to access in a supportive housing setting. Their recommendations included onsite recovery meetings, child care and recreation, exercise facilities and mental health services. The full menu of support is still being finalized.

“The goal is to make services as accessible as possible, while still empowering families to make their own choices,” said Michelle Lefebvre, senior department administrator with Children and Family Services. 

Families could begin moving in as early as June. Priority placement will be given to families facing the greatest number of barriers to finding stable housing on their own, and cases where lack of housing could delay reunification or send children deeper into the child protection system.

emerson village building under construction

A similar community, Emerson Village, is scheduled to open in North Minneapolis this fall with support services provided by Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis. Both buildings are being developed by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, a Minnesota housing nonprofit advancing equitable housing.

“These families have already been through the spin cycle,” said Wylie. “Not having to worry about the looming threat of homelessness will give them time and space to become self-sufficient.”

Our strategy to address deepest needs

The project would not meet so many deep needs without the county’s innovative supportive housing strategy.

Under the strategy, projects that set aside units to be filled by county staff and systems for our defined priority populations are eligible for up to five times more capital financing, and for early funding commitments to fill unique service and operating gaps.

For Vista 44, designating 20 units for families referred from Child Protection earned the project a $4,730,000 deferred loan from Housing and Economic Development, and a $390,000 annual grant from Children and Family Services.

Hennepin County also provided $400,000 in Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) program funding. The Vista 44 project provides new affordable housing units close to a variety of daily needs and activities in downtown Hopkins, reducing the need for residents to travel by car. The site is near existing transit and a future LRT station and redevelops an existing site, reducing ecological impacts and creating a more welcoming place for families.