Check out the 23rd annual South Minneapolis Housing Fair at South High School on April 1
By STEPHANIE FOX
For homeowners, spring brings warmer temperatures, budding flowers, and thoughts of home repairs. That’s why home-improvement events seem to be ubiquitous. But, the South Minneapolis Housing Fair is different than most. Created in 1994, originally as a showcase for neighborhood associations and local business, the Fair has since expanded but remains focused on South Minneapolis style homes.
This year, the Fair is again back at South High School (3131 S. 19th Ave.) after several years at the Midtown Y and will showcase 68 exhibitors. The event runs from 10am to 3pm, Sat., April 1.
Realtor Jessica Edwards-Smith, who has been on the Fair’s steering committee since the second year, said she got involved when she was new to real estate as a way to promote her business. But soon, she says, she got caught up in the Fair’s focus on helping the community.
“The reason I wanted to be on the board was to help people obtain and improve houses,” Edwards-Smith said. “There used to be more of these neighborhood fairs, but we’ve outlasted others because we continue to offer so many ways to help our neighbors.”
This year’s Fair will again showcase non-profit groups, government agencies, home-buying assistance organizations and building and remodeling companies that have experience working with South Minneapolis style homes.
Edwards-Smith, from Coldwell Banker Burnet, will be available to answer home buying and selling questions. Also look for Re/Max Results, Shawn R. Murphy Real Estate and Realtor, and Ride on Realty, LLC (to tour houses on your bike.)
The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is a Minnesota government agency created to help provide access to affordable housing. Stop by their booth to find out about housing and rental assistance including mortgages, down payment assistance and even housing repair loans. They also offer homebuyer education for first-time buyers.
The Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, a group whose mission is to increase affordable housing for those with low and moderate-incomes, will be there with information and demonstrations.
Better Futures Enterprise is an organization providing housing and jobs to men, some who have been incarcerated and some who just need a fresh start. The men work ‘deconstructing houses,’ a term for environmentally and cost-effective ways to remodel or tear down a house. “We save and recycle 80 percent of deconstruction materials and resell at our warehouse on Minnehaha Ave,” said Alex Baldwin, the group’s Sales and Donations Manager. Their booth will feature both their services and show samples of some of the beautiful vintage and other design and construction materials available to purchase.
Friends of the East Lake Library will be at the Housing Fair to let people know that the Library is a great resource for Do-It-Yourself project books, said Holly Breymaier, a volunteer with the group. “We’ll have a handout that shows books in the Hennepin County collection—folks just have to request those that aren’t in their local library. Plus we’ll have some books we’ll give away. And, we hope to interest folks who are into books into joining our group.”
The Minnesota Department of Health will demonstrate the dangers of bad indoor air, with updates about mold and radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas, common in basements in homes in South Minneapolis. It can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer. If testing shows that radon is present, there are ways to mitigate the problem.
Commercial businesses at the Fair are screened to make sure that they follow good customer service practices. Many are either based in South Minneapolis or have local experience in the area’s housing stock. Many also offer green technologies.
Diana Grundeen, owner of Trio Landscaping, a Minnesota Nursery Landscape Association member and a winner of several design awards, was featured on HGTV’s show, Curb Appeal. Her specialty is creating small urban retreats in the backyards of South Minneapolis homes. She’ll be available to talk to homeowners about design projects.
Buck Brothers Construction has been helping homeowners in South Minneapolis, with large and small remodeling jobs since 1983. Joe and Bob Buck, working out of their company at located at 2002 24th Ave., are experts in green and sustainable construction. They’ll be there to answer questions about designing, building or remodeling.
Orfield Construction, founded in the 1920s, was handed down from father to son. John Orfield, who took over from his dad in 1993, says he has seen new products and methods in homebuilding, but that old-fashioned values are just as important as they were in his father’s day. He specializes in additions and remodeling
Members of the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association’s Housing Committee will be sharing information low-interest home improvement and no-interest emergency repair loan programs, available for homeowners living in the Nokomis East Neighborhood (Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park and Wenonah). You can find information about the new Curb Appeal Matching Grant Lottery, a program to help fund landscaping projects.
Other neighborhood organizations, including those from Seward, Corcoran and Bancroft, will also attend.
Tech Dump will be there to take away and safely recycle tech devices including notebooks, laptops, keyboards, hard drives and iPods. They do not accept all devices, so call 763-424-3117 to check if your old electronics can be recycled. Tech Dump also has great bargains on refurbished electronics.
There are some fun things to do as well.
For a hands-on building experience, stop by the Elpis Enterprises booth. Elpis Enterprises is an organization supporting employment training for young people, ages 16 through 23, who are experiencing homelessness. The non-profit creates small businesses that teach kids skills that can lead to jobs, said Executive Director Paul Ramsour. One of their businesses manufactures cedar products, including cedar bird feeders, from recycled and reclaimed cedar fences. Some of these kids will be on hand to help anyone, young or old, build their own bird feeder. The South Minneapolis Housing Fair has covered the costs, so it’s not only fun, it’s free of charge.
Also, check out the tiny solar house from the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES). This interpretive exhibit, in the parking lot of South High School, will give a close look at some newly available green building technologies.