Family Promise in Anoka County will receive a $10,000 grant to kick start a new effort to combat homelessness in Anoka County.

The Home for Keeps program will allow families experiencing homelessness to transition to homeownership, as manufactured housing units are refurbished and presented to them.

David Frei, executive director of Family Promise in Anoka County, said the organization is reaching out to local park owners to see if they have any manufactured homes sitting vacant on their land. His hope is that park owners will sell such homes at low cost or donate them to Family Promise.

While no park owners have made homes available yet, opportunity is ripe in Anoka County, which has 4,778 lots in manufactured home parks, more than any other county in Minnesota for which the Minnesota Department of Health oversees licensing, according to Department of Health data.

“We have a lot of potential for it to grow,” Frei said. “Manufactured housing is getting a rebound in our area.”

Family Promise volunteers will fix up the homes so that a family can move in and eventually receive a title to the home.

“It’s a very inexpensive way for people to achieve stability,” Frei said.

A Family Promise affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a similar program, Partners in Housing, eight years ago and has found it to be tremendously successful.

Renting space in a manufactured home park typically costs families much less than renting an apartment would. On average, monthly rent is $450, and the average two-bedroom apartment in Grand Rapids goes for $1,100 monthly, according to Cheryl Schuch, executive director of Family Promise of Grand Rapids.

The organization has moved 91 families into 84 manufactured homes to date, she said.

“The only way for them to exit poverty is for them to build assets,” Schuch said. Owning a manufactured home is certainly a step in the right direction.

Other programs have started in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Orlando, Florida.

Anoka County is one of three Family Promise affiliates selected to receive a grant from the national office to move the project forward this year.

Frei hopes two to three manufactured homes can be redone by Family Promise locally before the end of the year.

In the meantime, the organization will keep its current efforts to help those experiencing homelessness going strong.

In 2016, the organization served 20 families, 76 people total, with the help of eighteen host and partner congregations.

Congregations house families at their facilities overnight, and in the morning, families are transported to the Family Promise of Anoka County Day Center in Ramsey. From there, they can get transportation to work or school, shower, wash clothes, work with a case management team and more.

There is a wait list for programing.

“Most of the families who call us ultimately will not get into our program,” Frei said.

Family Promise is the only Anoka County program that allows families to stick together overnight.

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If you or someone you know are in need of housing, call one of the following points of access in Anoka County:

-If you are a single adult or part of a family seeking housing, call The Salvation Army at 763-755-6873.

-If you are age 21 or younger, call the YMCA at 763-493-3052.

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