Mpls Recovery Idea: Use Foreclosed Homes As Shelters

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Part of the tragedy of the tornado that devastated North Minneapolis is that the same area had already been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. But the combination of those two problems gave one volunteer an idea to solve the two at once.

When Anthony Newby saw the storm damage and heard some of the stories, he was moved to help. Unlike some volunteers, he knew that those problems could have been his.

“I don’t consider myself … an activist or politically active in any way, but the tornado missed my house by about four blocks,” he said.

All the damage amid a number of foreclosed houses got Newby, who has a background in real estate, asking questions.

“Why are we shuttling people to armories and overcrowded homeless shelters when there are a number of properties in the community … and many of them are livable?” he said. “Why don’t we put something together that would allow folks to rebuild their lives in these properties?”

So he created an online petition, but city officials say most of the foreclosured homes are in bad shape. Many of the homes were broken into and had their copper pipes torn out. The immediate need, they say, is better served by shelters.

“The shelters are in demand … and there is capacity,” said Deborah Huskins, area director of Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department.

In fact, the county says shelters are not only gateways to better housing, but to the other services tornado victims need.

“There are people who can help them,” Huskins said. “And if they come to the county and they have questions, we can try to help them with shelter, we can help them with some other services, or we can connect them with other ways to get the help that they need.”

Newby says he already has a meeting set up with Mayor R.T. Rybak. He says banks are fixing up some foreclosure properties and wants them to be turned over for the city to use.


Click here to donate to the Minneapolis Tornado Resource site.

  • TryPlease

    These houses are in bad enough shape as it is, who needs families of 8,10 and 12 living in them destroying them further, live in the shelters and look for a job like normal human beings do, perhaps take a few years off from breeding, you’re not stray animals.

    • Justin Kirschman

      this comment is fantastic.

    • cqui

      I feel for the people devastated by disaster however there is truth in what you say. In the financial industry I ran into a second disaster following Katrina. People had offered the use of there second property to those who needed shelter. What did I have to do? Help these kind hearted people fix the walls beaten down and replace carpet, redo marble, stone and timbers and last but not least replace landscaping and driveways. Both property value and often decent living conditions need to be restored.

    • lauren

      If I was a stupid or evil Republican politician, I would love stupid people like you. I agree with you on the idea of destroying the houses, but who cares, the crooked banks own them and they did not earn them. I have worked for far too many banking enterprises and do know that they do not earn these foreclosed homes either. Government bailed out banks and the home builders made their money up front – what a sweetheart deal. The big loser was the hard worker trying to support their family only to have their job shipped offshore and never to come back. Another thing, take a look at the census data and you will notice that the birth rate has dropped off. Young Americans cannot afford to marry and have children in the US anymore. Americans cannot even afford to divorce anymore. If you think it is so easy to just get a job (one that supports a family of 4 – that is), then why is our unemployment numbers so extremely high?

  • Chris

    Banks are hosing everyone already by collecting on the government backed mortgage insurance and have no vested interest in selling or letting out the property to the state. What banker in their right mind would let people move into a house they’re already having trouble selling? They’ll sell when the market recovers, but in the meanwhile the banks have everything to gain by keeping houses empty. Thanks for using my tax dollars to make bankers fatter, uncle SAM! Should never have guaranteed loans to people that could never pay them back in the first place.

    • stumpdealer

      The market will never recover…. Fact

      • Buy gold

        Never. Ever.

        People would rather drive 50 miles paying $4/gallon gas than look at N. Minneapolis as a place to buy a once in a lifetime deal. The smart money is already buying.

        • @buy fools gold

          Living tree stump, there are 10 suburbs within 20mile range, you keep buying them gems for 30k, il keep walking my neighborhood anytime of day..

  • Sam I am

    If Minneapolis wants to buy the foreclosed homes and use them for shelters who cares. They are going to get freebies one way or another.

    However if Minneapoiis thinks they can just take and use the property they are wrong. The foreclosed homes are owned by the banks. Minneapolis will have to come buy them legally.

    • Rico Suave

      Exactly right Sam. This guy has a backgroung in real estate? I don’t think so. Just because a home is in foreclosure or has been foreclosed on, doesn’t mean no one owns it. That’s just a silly, uninformed idea. If the bank or lien holder wanted to get involved in some way, that’s up to them. Of course it would be foolish to let someone with no financial stake in a property stay in one. Judging by the nieghborhood where all the damage was done, the homeowners didn’t have much pride in ownership to begin with. How likely would they be to care for a place they have no personal interest in? Not likely.

    • Comrade in Minneapolis

      Minneapolis already thinks they own all of the homes anyway. What’s the difference? I guess they’re going into the property management business now as well.

  • Justin Kirschman

    this is the dumbest idea i’ve heard yet. How about everyone in these neighbor hoods collecting a government check has to put in 8 hour days cleaning until its all picked up. 2 things will happen, it’ll will either get picked up or they’ll hate the hard work so much thety’ll actually find a job. either way we win.

    • Jason

      1st place comment nomination!

  • Jason

    2 1/2 hours only 7 comments? Something is not right.

  • Jake

    Have we ‘achieved’ turd world or banana republic status yet? I think so. Thanks to the ‘progressives’, we are in the same boat as most nations around the world. The only thing missing are warlords and mass murder, soon to follow.

  • John 2

    What? Commen sense? Compasion? Doing what the good book says to do? No! What would the compasionate conservitives think about this?

    It wouldnt fly at any of our big church’s. Homeless being shelterd…in our neighborhood’s….say it isnt so.

    They must skip the good samaritan part , at seminary….(or make it an elective)

  • John 2

    Its a recesion when everyone ELSE loses THERE jobs. Its a DEPRESSION, when you lose yours.

    I mean, come’ON! Why doesnt EVERY parent have enough to put there kids through the U of M college system? whats wrong with people?

  • IwonderIf

    do you actually believe this garbage? Are you actually this delusional or are you just well “plain stupid”? Are you now rewriting history with the statement” this country was build on the ideals of WORK” And “build” should have been “built” as in past tense of the verb to build. Past simple tense.
    But on to what I have to say. I will “Dummy” this down into simple words so that you may understand. This country was built on the backs of slaves and immigrants period!
    And you say 1/10 of 1%… where do I even begin with this one.. Before you start bashing people about being un educated, maybe you should examine your own education and go bush up on a few things you racist fool….

  • lauren

    All of the fallout from the political leadership of this country of the last 40 years to date is really showing up. How sad! We are becoming a third world country. This was pretty easy to see happening quite some time ago – the fact that there are foreclosed homes is a very late sign for us. We should have been screeming when Reagan oppressed the air traffic controllers, or when Bush senior implemented NAFTA, or when Clinton and the republican congress signed CAFTA, or when GW Bush lied to us about WMD and put us in never never land. Why do we vote these people in office? Americans need to wise up quickly!

  • Sarah Miles

    This is a situation that really makes thing harder. We’ve been seing this facts since a long time and something must be done in order to change the scenario. Why they are using foreclosed homes as shelter? Where are the assistance programs?


  • RespondsibleAndEducated

    First and foremost, to condemn an entire community of people because the cover of the book isn’t pretty is like calling someone’s unborn child ugly. I am a single mother of 3. And that is not because I chose so, my HUSBAND was not lucky enough to return home from across ON THE JOB! And to make things even harder, the entire top floor of my house was demolished from the tornado. A house that I owned. You try ans explain to children why they have no bed to sleep in, or have to share thier food, and where “someone elses” clothes. None of you know how hard any of the people affected by this tragedy work and are still working to ensure the welfare of THIER family is maintained. Take that silver spoon out of your mouth and have a soul for Christ sake. All of you should be ashamed. Its easy not to loose a nights sleep until your foot is in one of our shoes.

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