Opening doors for youth experiencing homelessness
Youth Housing Project
Immanuel has a vision to help provide safe places for youth experiencing homelessness in the south-west metro. An Immanuel member donated funds to help purchase a house for this project and Immanuel’s Kim Rathjen (Coordinator of Outreach) is working with a community-wide steering committee to make this collaborative vision become a reality.
Youth Housing Project Gains Momentum
As we begin the new year, I am excited to provide you with an update on the progress of the Eden Prairie Housing for Youth Steering Committee. Over the past several months we have gained a great deal of clarity around our work. Thank you for your continuing prayers and support as we work collaboratively with our community leaders to respond to the needs of our young people.
- The Eden Prairie Housing for Youth Steering Committee has defined the housing model to be pursued and established an action plan for moving forward.
- Patricia Fenrick, will be the project manager. Patricia is the City of Eden Prairie’s Community Services Coordinator and development of this project will become part of her current job responsibilities.
- The Eden Prairie Community Foundation has established a fund that will be dedicated to the annual operating expenses for the house.
- Immanuel members John Urbanski and Andy Vergeront are now serving on the Advisory Board, and are happy to answer questions related to this project.
The Selected Housing Model
- The committee has determined that the best way to serve young people in our community who are homeless or precariously housed is by providing four units of affordable rental housing for 18 - 24 year olds who attend school or work in our community.
- This decision was made after a year of collaborative research and conversation with City of Eden Prairie officials, PROP leaders, Oasis for Youth, and a variety of youth service providers who deliver social services to youth in our community.
- A telling statistic is that during 2016, 48 18 - 24 year olds from Eden Prairie and Chanhassen reached out to PROP for services. All were identified as homeless or precariously housed.
- The plan is to offer four rooms for rent in a single-family home. Young people who rent the rooms would also have access to common space for cooking, laundry and socializing. The young people will be required to set goals, work towards them, and learn skills which will ensure that they can move into a more traditional type of rental.
- Oasis for Youth, a qualified social service agency, is very interested in providing case management for the youth.
As we begin the new year representatives of the committee will begin searching for a single-family home in Eden Prairie that will meet our criteria. We will let you know when a purchase is made! We will also be working to select and establish a contract with a social service partner. And the Advisory Board will begin fundraising in earnest.
About the Eden Prairie Housing for Youth Steering Committee
The Eden Prairie Housing for Youth Steering Committee was formed in the winter of 2016 to carry out the God-inspired vision of Immanuel Lutheran Church and the broader Eden Prairie community to respond to the growing population of homeless or precariously housed youth living in our midst. Thanks to a generous financial contribution from an anonymous Immanuel member and enthusiastic support of the congregation, Immanuel is able to fund the purchase of a home that will offer the physical framework needed to begin responding to this need. The City of Eden Prairie will initially provide a project manager for the youth housing program and the Eden Prairie Community Foundation will help sustain it through ongoing fundraising.
Kim Rathjen, Coordinator of Outreach
November 2016 - Update
EP Youth Housing Project – One Year In
Kim Rathjen, Coordinator of Inreach and Outreach
About a year ago Immanuel was presented with the opportunity to be part of a project in the wider community involving housing for homeless or at-risk youth in the SW metro. The Immanuel congregation voted to accept funds from a generous donor which would allow us to purchase a house when the time is right and meetings with interested people from the community began.
During the first year of planning a group of EP Community Leaders, including me, met together multiple times. We gathered data on current resources for precariously housed youth, compiled information about the need for services, and met with the Executive Directors of the major organizations that are currently serving youth in our community. A mission, vision and values statements were also written. In all of our research and conversations it was confirmed that there are kids at risk in our community, and supportive housing and services are needed to help these young people achieve their full potential.
As we enter the second year of preparing and planning for the possibility of youth housing in our community, an Advisory Board was gathered to help the group move from the discovery and ideas phase into the execution phase of planning. People from the community with specific skill sets were invited to help us develop structure and formality for the vision. The Advisory Board will meet once a month for the coming school year. Community members include: Carol Bomben, Jan Eian, Joe Epping, Gena Gerard, Elaine Larabee, Police Sgt Eric LeBlanc, Kathy Palmer, Kim Rathjen, Kyle Rose, Gwen Schultz, Jay Simpson, John Urbanski, Andy Vergeront, Mark Weber. The Advisory Board is not meant to be an exclusive group, and community members who have gifts, skills and time to move the project forward are welcomed.
It is an honor to represent the Immanuel congregation in this collaborative effort. Your prayers for the forward movement of the project are coveted as we move into this next phase!
Summary of the Youth Housing Project
- It is agreed that this will be a community project. Immanuel will assume no long-term fiscal or administrative responsibility.
- Immanuel pledges $300,000 in seed money over three years, plus the money donated to us for this work by an anonymous member.
- Immanuel leadership begins to plan its next capital fund appeal.
- Immanuel Outreach Coordinator Kim Rathjen begins conversations with a broad coalition of Eden Prairie community leaders who form the Eden Prairie Housing for Youth steering committee to address the need for youth housing.
- The house on Luther Way that we thought might become youth housing has sold, but the church is not the buyer. Since that house in no longer available we have decided to wait until we have cash in hand before seeking out another property to be used for youth housing.
- Immanuel begins conversations about investing in property for youth housing.
- A member donates a gift to make that possible.
- Congregation votes to accept the gift.
- Community-wide Steering Committee is developed:
Carol Bomben - General Manager of the Preserve; Eden Prairie Morning Rotary
Tony Compton - Director Marketing & Communications of 360 Communities; Eden Prairie Morning Rotary
Laura Dockery - Teens Alone Board Member
Jan Eian - Eden Prairie Business Owner; Eden Prairie Morning Rotary
Gena Gerard - Eden Prairie Resident; Immanuel Member
Christine Hart - Community Developer, CAPSH (Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin)
Andrea Knoll - Founder and Oasis Board Member
Nicole Mills - Executive Director Oasis for Youth
Kim Rathjen - Coordinator of Outreach, Immanuel
Mark Weber - Executive Director Eden Prairie Community Foundation
Committee supporters - willing to provide assistance as needed
Jenny Buckland - PROP Program Director
Patricia Fenrick - Community Service Coordinator City of Eden Prairie
Molly Koivumaki - Housing Manager City of Eden Prairie
Janet Palmer - PROP Executive Director
- A congregation-wide survey identifies ministry priorities, including:
- Develop ministries that work toward healing those broken by life’s circumstances.
- Expand outreach ministries that provide direct service to those living on the margins of society.
- Members and staff continue to learn about homelessness in Eden Prairie and the hidden issue of youth experiencing homelessness in our community.
- Immanuel begins hosting Families Moving Forward
- Immanuel members ask, “What else is God calling us to do?”
- Immanuel members and staff begin to research homelessness in our community.
Frequently asked questions