What is Rita’s House?

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By Michelle Basham, Executive Director

Have you heard about our newest project, Rita’s House? We are thrilled to be adding a major new program to our offerings for youth.

Rita’s House will open in early February (join us for our Grand Opening January 18!) serving young people ages 18-21. Currently, youth age out of our Emergency Shelter and Transitions programs on their 18th birthday, so this opportunity to serve our clients and other homeless young people as they move into adulthood is an exciting expansion of our programs.

We have owned the house at 2200 Emerson Ave S for more than four decades, and it served as our primary home for many years. Generations of young people have passed through those doors during the most difficult days of their lives. This house has served as a symbol of hope and compassion for thousands. Rita’s House is named after Sister Rita Steinhagen, a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who founded The Bridge for Youth.

Since 2013, when our programs moved across the street, the house sat empty. We considered many different options for the property, but none of them were quite right. Then, in December 2016, the Minneapolis City Council amended the Code of Ordinances to allow intentional communities.

An intentional community is a purposefully vague term. It allows unrelated adults to live together, when they function as a unit. Members of an intentional community should share some household expenses and have a set of rules governing upkeep and behavior.

That’s what we’ll be doing at Rita’s House. Up to a dozen young people can live in the house at any time, and they’ll work together to manage the household while working toward their own individual goals. They’ll learn life skills and build a rental history that will help them succeed when they’re ready to move into a market rate apartment.

While they live at Rita’s House, young people will have their own bedrooms and share the kitchen, bathrooms, and other common spaces. They’ll pay rent, but can qualify for an incentive program to earn a portion of the rent back, for use toward market-rate apartment expenses. They’ll also work with a case manager and an Independent Living Skills specialist, who will help them work towards independent adulthood.

When a young person turns 18, they are considered an adult under the law. However, as anyone who has ever met a high school senior knows, they still have a lot of learning to do. Many people turn to their parents for help learning how to grocery shop, plunge a toilet, or navigate their first job. Teenagers rarely have a credit history, so they can’t qualify for a lease if they don’t have an adult who can cosign. Formerly homeless youth have countless barriers to overcome as they step into the adult world. At Rita’s House, we’ll provide guidance and support.

Help make Rita’s House a home by contributing to our Target registry, or support all of our programs with a financial donation.





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