Rita’s House set to open at 22nd & Emerson

Transitions Manager Kate LaCroix Peal (l) talks with Outreach Specialists Phil Henderson and Alero Ogisi at Rita’s House, which opens Feb. 1.

Volunteers at The Bridge for Youth assembled Ikea furniture and stocked welcome baskets in preparation for the first residents at Rita’s House, an affordable housing project for youth.

Residents move in Feb. 1 at 2200 Emerson Ave. S.

“Very often they come here with nothing but the clothes on their back,” said Executive Director Michelle Basham. “…It will help them develop rental history in this low-vacancy environment.”

The building is designed for youth age 18-21 who are at risk of homelessness. Twelve youth will pay about $225-$375 per month for a single bedroom, shared bathrooms, a commercial kitchen (left over from the house’s years as an emergency shelter) and shared dining and living spaces.

Rita's House 2
A Target registry lists donation requests for Rita’s House.

Basham said that thanks to donations from neighborhood groups and other donors, the first year of operation is fully funded. The living arrangement became possible in 2016, when the City Council passed new rules for “intentional communities” that allow more unrelated people to live together.

The house is named for Sister Rita Steinhagen, who co-founded the Bridge in 1970 after noticing increasing numbers of runaway youth in Minneapolis’ west bank. (The Bridge was named after the Simon & Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”)

All youth will attend school or work, and they will meet with a resident advisor and case manager to help them navigate issues like banking, budgeting and health insurance. CommonBond will serve as property manager.

“We don’t care about your past, it’s where you want to go in the future,” said Kate LaCroix Peal, a transitions manager at Rita’s House. “Everybody’s got a past.”