Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Normandale Lutheran expands affordable housing initiative

Edina congregation has been invested in the project for ten years

Eight families will have affordable homes as a result of a housing initiative by Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina. In February the congregation supplied funds to enable its partner, Urban Homeworks, to purchase four duplex houses on Elliot Avenue in south Minneapolis. These newly-acquired duplexes are literally across the alley from Normandale House, located on Chicago Avenue.

A partnership of Nor-mandale Lutheran Church with Urban Homeworks, a Christian nonprofit, brings together complementary ex-pertise. Urban Homeworks has experience in owning and operating urban housing. Normandale has experience in providing social services to homeless and low-income families.

The church has operated Normandale House, a three-apartment building, for over 10 years, in partnership with Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Outreach Ministries. Normandale provides social services to residents, helping families move from homelessness to independent living. Services include an assigned social worker and support team of Normandale members who meet regularly with resident families. At these sessions the residents set goals that the team helps them achieve, including managing family finances and developing educational and employment skills. Other Normandale members help maintain the apartments, some serving as “turnover crews” to prepare for new residents. Normandale youth serve as “Reading Buddies” for children living in the three apartments. The four newly-purchased duplexes represent an extension of Nor-mandale’s housing efforts.

Purchase of the four duplexes was made possible under Nor-mandale Lutheran’s $3.5 million “Marching Off the Maps” capital campaign. Fund-raising professionals consider the campaign un-usual since it included no “bricks and mortar” component for the church’s facility located at 6100 Normandale Blvd. Over $1 million from the campaign was stipulated for the expanded housing program.

Erica Schmiel, Normandale member and President of Normandale Housing Corporation, says, “Now we’re planning how to provide support services to families living at the duplexes with funds remaining from the $1 million. Several of the units purchased were occupied; no one will be displaced. It’s possible some of the units will be occupied by ‘urban neighbors,’ people living together in Christian community who work and volunteer in the community and serve as role models.

“Our Normandale House triplex has a two-year residence limit for people moving out of homelessness. Because of the lack of affordable housing and low wages in the Twin Cities our post-residents have been at risk of again becoming homeless. We determined to hold or increase the stock of affordable housing for them. We foresee some residents moving out of Normandale House to become renters of these affordable housing units.

Mark Gaasedelen, Normandale member and an attorney who handled legal aspects of the partnership, speaks positively of the venture. “Pastor Dale Howard, Erica Schmiel and their committee have literally worked for years to bring this project to fruition, and they should be commended for their great efforts, as should the congregation who provided the funding.”