By Peter Bodley
Four foreclosed, vacant single-family homes in need of repair purchased by the Anoka County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) in late November 2017 have been sold to three county-based nonprofit organizations which provide shelter and programs for homeless people.
The HRA, which comprises the seven members of the Anoka County Board, purchased the four properties, located in Blaine, Columbia Heights, Ramsey and Spring Lake Park, using federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars.
On Feb. 27 the HRA unanimously approved the sale of the homes to Hope 4 Youth (Ramsey), Stepping Stone (Blaine) and Family Promise in Anoka County (Spring Lake Park and Columbia Heights) for $1 each.
According to Karen Skepper, HRA executive director, traditionally the HRA has offered foreclosed homes to nonprofit organizations for $1 with a requirement that the organization make the necessary repairs to bring the properties up to code.
“But they can’t apply for CDBG dollars to do the repairs,” Skepper said.
The three nonprofits plan to use the properties to house homeless people, either through selling the repaired home or renting it, she said.
Hope 4 Youth operates a drop-in center in Anoka for homeless youth under 23 years of age and recently opened a transitional housing facility for youth in Coon Rapids.
Stepping Stone Emergency Housing has the only homeless shelter in the county – it has 66 beds – for men and women, some as young as 18. It is located on the county’s Rum River Human Services campus in Anoka.
Family Promise in Anoka County, headquartered in Ramsey, is an interfaith hospitality network providing temporary shelter and hospitality to families with dependent children facing homelessness.