Jeremiah Program grows with corporate, city money
The Jeremiah Program at 1510 Laurel Ave. will open a four-floor wing Tuesday, July 1 that more than doubles the low-income single mothers it can house.
The Jeremiah Program offers supportive housing and childcare to single women with young children. In the two-year program, women attend post-secondary education classes, work part-time and learn life-management skills.
Jeremiah currently assists 18 families, but the new wing increases the residential capacity to 39. Floors two through four will each have seven two-bedroom apartments. After July 7, the ground floor will accommodate a childcare facility -- primarily for Jeremiah children, but it will also be open to the community (for information on signing up, see sidebar). Jeremiah will be able to care for 62 children, up from 28.
"The expansion will give the Jeremiah Program a greater opportunity to have a significant impact on the community and to leverage our resources provided by community supporters," said Gloria Perez Jordan, Jeremiah's executive director.
At a time when many community services are being cut, Jeremiah's expansion puts the program in a rare position.
"But by building the housing and community facility, we'll be able to maximize our staff to provide some of those services," Perez Jordan said.
In 2001, the annual budget for the program was $1 million, costing roughly $55,000 per family to run. Once the expanded facility meets full occupancy in 2004, the overall operation cost will increase to $1.7 million. But the per-family cost will drop by 20 percent, to $43,500 each, based on the operating estimate.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Program's Affordable Housing Reserve Fund has helped make the $4.2 million expansion possible, contributing $1 million. The rest of the funding came from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Minneapolis Community Development Agency, the Empowerment Zone and various private foundations.
The Jeremiah Program has survived on contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals. Community support also comes from the 150 active volunteers who cook meals for families, take care of children or greet guests.
Since the non-profit launched in December 1997, 19 women have graduated the program. All of them have jobs; 91 percent earn $12 an hour or more and about a third own a home.
About 50 volunteers, including U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, installed more age-appropriate playground equipment at the facility grounds June 14.
A dedication celebration for the expansion will be held Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. For more information about the program, call 692-8711 or visit www.jeremiahprogram.org.