Housing project in Minneapolis gives veterans a place to get back on their feet

A place to call home

A place to call home

A unique property in north Minneapolis will serve as “transitional housing” for veterans in crisis.

The new construction along Humboldt Avenue features a four-bedroom home with a separate 370-square-foot accessory dwelling unit, also known as a tiny home, in the backyard.

It is part of a project called Housing for Heroes, which provides temporary housing for veterans and their families.

“We have 280 veterans here in the Twin Cities that are experiencing homelessness,” said Jessica Ryan, executive director of the Housing First Minnesota Foundation. “We have to do what we can in the housing industry to be able to make an impact.”

This is the eighth home build to be completed through this project, with three more in Minneapolis slated for this year.

Veterans and their families move in, on average, for six to nine months as they work to get back on their feet.

It is possible thanks to a partnership between the Housing First Minnesota Foundation, the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans and home construction company Lennar.

“We’ve all come together to use our talents to address a need. What better way to use our talent as home builders than to build housing for veterans who need it?” said Bill Burgess, president of Lennar’s Minnesota division.

Ryan added, “It’s like the dream team coming together. We all know what we’re experts in. At the foundation, we can help fundraise, Lennar is an extraordinary build partner and MACV is providing outstanding services as it relates to our veterans experiencing homelessness.”

There are multiple fundraising efforts that support this project, including the Dream Home tours on the Parade of Homes, where people give a suggested donation of five dollars.

“We had a record-breaking visit 13,000 visits to our Dream Homes as part of our Parade of Homes Spring Tour, which raised $74,000. So money like that is used to help build homes for our Housing for Heroes program and make a difference in people’s lives,” Ryan said.

Since the project began back in 2017, it has helped 60 veterans, including Malcalisha Lauderdale.

Lauderdale served two tours in the Middle East, deploying to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

Upon returning home to her children, she started a new job and began caring for her sick father.

“But then COVID hit, I lost my job and my lease was ending,” Lauderdale said. “I was struggling and needed help. I went to not knowing what I was going to do the next day for my children. I’ve never been in a situation like that.”

When she sought help from the VA, they directed her to MACV, which offered her assistance through the Housing for Heroes program.

“They called me out to come first, to show it to me. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘You’re giving this to us?'” Lauderdale recalled.

Lauderdale lived in the newly constructed home with her four children for about a year.

“Putting me and my children in a house like that definitely helped me get back on my feet,” Lauderdale said. “We’ve been great since then. I got married and had another child.”

She is now back in school, studying software development.

“I don’t know what else I can do but say thank you to them because they definitely changed my life for the better,” Lauderdale said.

If you would like to donate to the Housing for Heroes program, click here.