A former nursing home in downtown Minneapolis has been transformed into new affordable apartments for Minnesotans who have long struggled with homelessness.
Local politicians and Catholic Charities leaders Wednesday celebrated the opening of the $75 million project, Endeavors Residence, which is a result of a rare partnership between the public and private sectors to double the number of affordable housing units the nonprofit operates downtown.
It's a historic project for Minnesota, with the state investing its largest amount ever in housing infrastructure bonds — $30 million total.
"Places like this change lives," said Jennifer Ho, commissioner of Minnesota Housing. "But they change us, too. They make us believe that home isn't something that some of us get and some of us don't. Home is a place where we all can build our futures."
After two years of renovating the building in the Elliot Park neighborhood, residents will begin moving into Endeavors Residence in June. The campus will house 203 men and women who are chronically homeless, especially veterans, and also help those who are recovering from an illness or injury.
Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis received donations and foundation grants for the project, but most of the costs are paid by public dollars. Hennepin County dedicated $5 million, the most money it has ever committed to one housing project as the county aims to add 1,000 affordable housing units. Another $3.5 million is from the city of Minneapolis.
"The private market just can't satisfy this need on its own," Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene said. "That's why we need strong partnerships like those that have made Endeavors a reality."
The opening has been a long time coming. Catholic Charities announced in 2019 it was buying and renovating the former Augustana Health Care Center to replace its 47,000-square-foot Exodus Residence, which housed 95 residents in leased space from St. Olaf Church for more than two decades.
Adults in the 173 apartments at Endeavors will have access to 24/7 care and case management.
After being without a home for three years, Torey, who declined to use his last name, landed an apartment in Exodus Residence in 2019 and is now looking forward to moving into the larger efficiencies.
"It's night and day [difference]," said the 47-year-old, who added that he's most excited to have his own refrigerator. "It's going to feel more like a community."
Catholic Charities also is moving the nonprofit's headquarters with about 200 employees to the campus. A new Health Care for the Homeless clinic operated by the county and a care center for medical respite also are on site.
Endeavors Residence is part of a growing effort to provide more and better housing options for people experiencing homelessness. But more is needed, Catholic Charities CEO Michael Goar said. According to recent data, more than 5,600 people in the Twin Cities stayed in shelters or were helped by local programs in January — up from about 5,000 people in January 2020.