Yesterday afternoon we had a short House floor session, so I was able to arrive back in Northfield in time to attend the Community Action Center (CAC) open house at Marilyn’s Place. Another great community project.

Marilyn’s Place is permanent supportive housing in Northfield. Jim Blaha, CAC Director, and the folks at the Community Action Center will operate this housing, which now consists of a three-unit house and a four-unit house just off Jefferson Parkway.

Ellen and I had a good time visiting with many friends and work associates on a beautiful day, to celebrate the completion of a great project. Northfield Construction Company provided a donation of the siding installation on the four-unit home. Greg Schmidt with Steve Schmidt Construction coordinated the work on the building and deserves a big “Thank You” for his efforts. The building was designed by Don Starr from Starr Design.

I gathered with Rev. Craig Ellingboe (St. Peter’s Lutheran Church), Don Starr, Steve Schmidt, and Greg Schmidt in front of the house we all worked on.

The three-unit building was designed by Jay Jasnoch (Jasnoch Construction). Jay’s father, Gene Jasnoch coordinated the construction of this building. Knowing what buildings like these should cost, I know Gene gave a sizeable donation to the Community Action Center when he turned it over to them. Jay did a great job designing a building that is attractive and very functional. The kitchens in the units are bright and full of natural light.

Justin Stets, CAC board member, was very involved in the project from the beginning. Justin and Jim Blaha never gave up. When the idea first was proposed they applied for state funding grants…two times. And two times they were turned down. Not giving up, they turned to the construction community for assistance in the construction, and to the City of Northfield and the Housing and Redevelopment Agency for the sites. They pulled the projects together and we now have wonderful new homes for people that need housing.

This CAC project shows how a community can work together to solve an identified need. The project does not have state funding…it was built completely using local efforts. This is an example many communities can and should use as a model for similar housing. It is tempting to always want to turn to the state for funding or housing. I firmly believe a much better choice is to do as the CAC did….involve your local builders, designers and construction professionals and create your own projects. As Justin and Jim found out, when you ask for help in this way, you may be pleasantly surprised at the response you get.

Housing needs for mentally ill people will never completely go away. Providing safe, clean housing in a growing part of the community is an appropriate way to meet some of these housing needs. I can’t think of anyone that needs a bright, well designed, cheerful home more than a person battling mental illness. I’m proud to have been asked to be part of this great project.


Author Since: 25 / Apr / 2018

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