Apartment with units for foster youth approved

Image courtesy of John and Denise Graves Foundation.

A proposed apartment building near Franklin & Hennepin with units designated for young people aging out of foster care has received city approval.

Peris Hill, a John and Denise Graves Foundation project, will reserve 15 of its 45 units for people ages 18 to 21 who have aged out of the Hennepin County foster care system.

The remaining 30 units will be for people who make below 60% of the area median income (AMI) — about $57,000 per year for a Minneapolis family of four as of 2018 — with some of those units reserved for those making under 50% AMI.

“I think it’s going to provide a wonderful support for youth,” executive director Courtney Cushing Kiernat said.

The transition into adulthood can be a vulnerable time for youth in the foster care system.

Each year, 20% of the more than 23,000 U.S. children who age out of the system instantly become homeless, according to the National Foster Youth Institute.

Over 40% of homeless youth go on to need social services.

“We don’t want youth to have to become homeless to then be eligible [for] affordable housing,” Cushing Kiernat said. “This is catching them … so there is a transition from the foster home into supportive housing.”

Cushing Kiernat said the Graves Foundation will fund full-time, on-site case manager, program director and front-desk positions to support the former foster youth. Those staff will come from The Link, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth.

Volunteers of America will manage the property, Cushing Kiernat said, and Peris Hill will partner with organizations such as Connections to Independence, which supports foster youth, to fill the 15 units. For the other 30 tenants, it plans to recruit from nearby businesses, graduate schools and nonprofit organizations.

The building, to be located at 1930 Hennepin Ave., will have studio and one-bedroom units ranging from 402-768 square feet. It will be stepped back on the Colfax Avenue side and will have a bike room.

The former foster youth will have a dedicated first-floor space, and there will also be a communal space for all residents.

The site’s existing one-story building has been home to a number of restaurants, mostly recently Bradstreet Neighborhood Crafthouse. The Graves Foundation chose it after interviewing youth, service providers and social workers about what they wanted in a location.

“It’s just absolutely ideal,” said Cushing Kiernat, who grew up in the neighborhood.

The foundation is funding the building primarily through the federal low-income housing tax credit program. It has set aside funding to support The Link’s in-building services for 10 years and has committed in funding applications to keeping the development affordable for 45 years.

The former foster youth will receive a rent stipend from Hennepin County until they turn 21.

Cushing Kiernat said the goal is to begin construction this summer and open to tenants in summer 2021.

Land-use applications for the project were approved at the mid-April Planning Commission meeting, which was held virtually.