After graduating from the University of Minnesota in the Spring of 2014 with a major in Anthropology, Allison Scheider joined TCHDC on August 4 as a VISTA member, sponsored by the Minnesota Literacy Council.
VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America, but being a VISTA member is much more than being a volunteer. Allison will work on a full time basis for a full year to help us build and enhance our capacity to provide reading literacy programming for children at the Liberty Plaza and Calibre Ridge Resource Centers. She will help us develop and implement our myON Reader online reading literacy project, write and test reading and internet safety curricula, and do groundwork in preparation for development of a new homework tutoring program. Of the year ahead Allison says, “I am very excited to see the impact that the myON reader will have on students in these communities. I am optimistic for student involvement and I am excited to see how they shape the programming.”
Her interests include reading, cooking, and ceramic arts. She is also venturing into the Minnesotan favorite pastime of cycling.
We are gearing up for a new high tech reading program for children at the Liberty Plaza and Calibre Ridge Resource Centers beginning this summer.
Capstone, a major publisher of children’s books, has made a new online library called myON Reader available to TCHDC. We will be using myON in our after school programs this coming school year. With 5,000 + children’s books that are just a few keystrokes and a couple of clicks away, myON is a child-friendly online collection of books designed to promote a ‘love of reading.’ MyON does this by providing each child with his/her own personal log-in so children can read anywhere they have access to the internet. This allows kids to own their own reading experience. Children get to choose their favorite subject matter and what books they read. They can even rate books and write reviews. Most of the books are illustrated and have an audio read-aloud feature.
MyON is not just a great children’s library. It also helps struggling readers (and good readers, too) to move toward, achieve, and even surpass grade level reading proficiency. MyON has a built-in assessment function that tells us at what level children are reading. Each book in the library is rated for difficulty using a standardized framework called Lexile. From the start MyON helps each child to find books at his/her level of difficulty and in subject areas they want to read. Then every few books, myON assesses kids’ current reading level (which we hope is always higher) and recommends new books at a new level of difficulty.
By the end of 2015, the myON Reader will be a fully integrated part of our after school programs, and we will be on our way to developing a new stand-alone homework tutoring program with a reading literacy focus at Liberty Plaza. More to come on this in future months… The Kelly McSherry-Mesa Memorial Children's Fund (the Kelly Fund) is now established in the name of Kelly McSherry-Mesa, long-time Program Coordinator for TCHDC, to provide single-need financial supports for individual children to cover the cost of educational and recreational activities and supplies that cannot be covered by other means. The Fund will make its first awards in 2014. To make a contribution to the Kelly Fund, or for more information, contact Program Manager, Dave Browne, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-292-0211 x 227.
Kelly McSherry-Mesa was the Program Coordinator at Liberty Plaza Resource Center and Calibre Ridge from 2006 until she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on November 1, 2013. She was beloved by the families who resided at Liberty Plaza during her tenure. She especially cherished and was cherished by the children whom she saw daily. She was a devoted parent who brought her parenting values to her work with children in the community. Given Kelly’s long-term contribution to Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation, Liberty Plaza, and the children there whose lives she touched, we wanted to honor Kelly’s memory in a way that would have thrilled her. It did not take long for us to identify a way of doing that.
Some examples of what the Fund can be used to support, are: ACT/SAT Prep and Test fees; fees and/or equipment to enable a child to participate in a school or club sport; rent a musical instrument or pay for lessons; chess, Lego, debate or other clubs; attendance at a special educational event or activity.
Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation contributed $500.00 to establish the Fund. Kelly’s family has endorsed the Kelly Fund. The family made one of the initial contributions to launch the fund and has hosted three fundraisers that raised over $1,600.
TCHDC completed the substantial renovation of Northgate Woods, a 75 unit affordable property in Blaine, MN, in November 2011. In 2012 Northgate Woods was nominated for an MHA MADACS (Multi housing Acheivement in Design, Adversiting and Community Support) Award in the area of Complete/Total Building Renovation. The Minnesota Multi Housing Association acknowledges the MADACS awards as the most honored award given in recognition of superior contributions to the multi housing industry.
The judging for a MADACS award is rigorous and, for the category of Complete/Total Building Renovation, includes an evaluation of cost effectiveness/return on investment, impact on propety/neighborhood, impact on financial performance of property and quality of upgrade.
We are excited to have our Northgate Woods project recognized with such a prestigous award and are grateful to everyone who played a role in the redevelopment including LHB Architects, Watson Forsberg Co. the general contractor, Real Estate Equities our Property Management Agent and of course all of the residents who worked with us and lived through twelve months of construction on the site. Northgate Woods will serve Blaine and the surrounding area as a high quality affordable housing development for many years to come. The newest addition to the TCHDC portfolio is St. Philip’s Gardens. St. Philip’s Gardens is a property with significant relevance to the Summit-University area. In 1972, it was developed by the small inner-city church, St. Philip’s Episcopal, as housing for the working poor of the community. St. Philip’s Episcopal Church was started in 1894 as St. Philip’s Mission. The church served the African American community for over a century and grew to a multicultural congregation serving the area, while retaining the special African American warmth, spirit, and music.
As the congregation aged, St. Philip’s merged with another small church with the same service mission; and the church moved from the area in 2008. The church retained ownership of the property after the merger. The congregation members of the original church did their best to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility as the owner; however, that became increasingly difficult as members aged. The board recognized this and took steps to find a new owner.
In January 2009, TCHDC entered into a purchase agreement with the church to acquire the property; and also took on the role of asset manager on behalf of the church. In April 2012 TCHDC acquired the property and will operate it until we close on the financing necessary to complete a substantial renovation in the fall of 2012.
St. Philip’s Gardens is a 55-unit property and has one, two and three bedroom units in both apartments and townhomes. Forty one of the units come with a rental subsidy through a HAP contract with HUD so the property is able to serve the very lowest income families in our community. All units will remain affordable for the next 30 years. TCHDC is honored to have the opportunity to carry on the legacy of affordable housing began by St. Philip’s Episcopal 40 years ago, and to help assure that the property will provide high-quality affordable housing for many years to come.
Last December, in partnership with East Side Neighborhood Development Company, we began the substantial rehab of 48 units on the East Side of St. Paul. The project also includes the addition of three new units. At the completion of the project, there will be 51 units of high- quality affordable housing in an area that has seen tremendous disinvestment and deterioration for many years.
Tammy Schnaible, the Real Estate Equities Portfolio Director responsible for the management of the site has received lots of positive feedback from the community. "Day after day all we hear from residents and prospective tenants is that they love what they have seen so far, and they can't wait to see what it will look like once it's all done. What a great community East Side Commons has become...I enjoy seeing all the smiles on the residents' faces when I walk through their permanent home with them. They say it's well worth the wait and having to move twice. Residents are overjoyed with the central air and the washer and dryer provided ...But most of all, everyone loves that they have a patio to sit on and can put patio furniture on."
John Vaughn, the Executive Director of East Side Neighborhood Development Company, spoke to the project's individual and neighborhood importance. "I drove by the new townhome last week. It was about 95 degrees and a bunch of kids who just moved in were dancing in the sprinkler spray. They were having the time of their lives and it was great to see...I know the nearby Contender for the Faith Church and the folks at the Wilder Rec. Center are thrilled with the East Side Commons project. Really, the whole neighborhood has been working hard on safety and breaking down social isolation in that immediate area. This project is helping on both fronts."