#126 at EcoVillage Apartments in North Minneapolis is the unit that Joanne Hager likes the most. Joanne is one of the subcontractors who helped build the new affordable housing development for Project for Pride in Living. “It’s a special unit,” Joanne explains. “You can see the playground from the stoop. I like to imagine a young mom sitting there watching her kids play, or standing out there to call them to dinner.”
Not long ago, Joanne herself was a young mother who found housing thanks to PPL. Due to her own hard work, and a helping hand from PPL, Joanne’s life has come full circle. The woman who once needed affordable housing has now helped create that space for others in her own North Minneapolis neighborhood.
Joanne’s PPL journey began in the early 90’s. After ending a tumultuous relationship, Joanne abruptly found herself the sole-provider for her two children. She needed to find a safe place for them to live, and fast. But Joanne was underemployed, and wary of landlords.
“I looked at all different types of crummy apartments before finding PPL. I contacted them and quickly signed a lease on a converted brownstone.” Joanne says. “I didn’t have to worry about things not working. I didn’t have to worry about my two small kids being safe. They just offered me this beautiful, peaceful place I could afford.”
PPL not only offered stable housing, but provided opportunities for continued growth. “It was once I was in that apartment that I finally got my GED,” Joanne shares. This helped Joanne get on a higher-earning career track, which eventually led to work in the construction industry.
Soon after, Joanne established her own credit with help from PPL’s wraparound services. A few years later, she participated in a Thrivent Financial savings program that helped her start saving with the goal of sending her kids to college. And she did.
“What excites me about PPL is that in addition to housing, you also get help with financial planning and finding employment. PPL has a formula that addresses disparities.”
But her PPL story doesn’t end there. In the beginning, Joanne was working temporarily for a subcontractor on PPL’s EcoVillage Apartments construction site. She had no idea that it was a PPL building, but was impressed by the amenities she saw going into the development. “I thought wow – underground parking, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and a playground. You just don’t see many new buildings like this going up in my North Minneapolis neighborhood.”
When she found out that it would be affordable to neighbors living at or below the poverty line, Joanne was thrilled. “When I heard this was a PPL building, I told Doug from Watson-Forsberg, the contractor on the project, that I was not at all surprised. I told him that PPL gave me way more than I thought I could get when I was starting a new life as a PPL resident in the 90s.”
Doug was so touched by Joanne’s story and her enthusiasm for EcoVillage Apartments that he decided he needed her on his team. “I remember my last day on the job with the sub-contractor. I waved to Doug on the way out, and he asked me, ‘Joanne, where are you going?’ Three hours later, I had a new job with Watson-Forsberg,” Joanne smiles.
Getting a new start at life – this is Joanne’s hope for the 200+ new residents of EcoVillage Apartments. With a neighbor like Joanne looking after them, we have no doubt that they will. Thanks so much to Joanne for sharing her PPL story with us!