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Fall 2017

Building Stable Homes, Strong Futures, and Vibrant Communities since 1971 Pine Point Apartments Coon Rapids, MN

68 units for families 92 residents Studio, 1BR, and 2BR Built in 1986

CommonBond Communities recently purchased two housing communities, Pine Point and Rainbow Plaza, proudly preserving them as critical affordable housing options for 229 residents. “The Twin Cities is in short supply of affordable places to live, so this seemed like the right thing to do,” said Jack Washburn, one of the sellers. “As we passed ownership on, it was a priority for us to work with an organization like CommonBond – making sure they didn’t suddenly become highend properties and displace current residents. This is our way to give back to the community and do the right thing for many years to come.” CommonBond plans to update both apartment buildings over the next two years by making improvements to the common areas, management offices, laundry rooms, and to the units themselves. Both properties are connected to schools that have received recognition for outcomes tied to closing the achievement gap.

Rainbow Plaza Apartments Anoka, MN

Preserving homes and creating opportunities in Anoka County

105 units for families 137 residents Studio, 1BR, and 2BR Built in 1972

Additionally, Rainbow Plaza and Pine Point were part of CommonBond’s initiative to preserve affordability without government funding for the purchase. CommonBond will buy properties sometimes referred to as naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) with a goal of minimizing rent increases and resident displacement. CommonBond is able to accomplish this by achieving a price below the appraised value, and/or with financing with low-cost sources from organizations or individuals interested in the mission of affordable workforce housing. For the purchase of these two properties, CommonBond helped Freddie Mac create a new financing source with the participation of Mercy Housing, NHT-Enterprise, and NorthMarq Capital. This product will soon be rolled out nationally.

Meet CommonBond’s inaugural Board Associates

Jamal Adam is a Public Ally and a Dr. Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy Fellow. He works at the University of Minnesota working on their Community Outreach, Retention and Engagement (CORE2025), an early outreach and cohort program with the goal of building a larger pipeline of academically prepared, college-ready students from multicultural backgrounds. Previously, Jamal was a kindergarten and first grade associate teacher at Sankofa Underground North Academy in Minneapolis. Jamal is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Lakeisha Lee has been a senior contact center representative at Hiway Federal Credit Union since 2008. In addition to her regular duties, Lakeisha serves on a number of committees, including chairing the Young Professional Committee. She also volunteers as a life skills mentor at Brittany’s Place, a shelter that provides a safe and supportive environment for girls and young women, empowering them to achieve their goals and lead healthy lives. Lakeisha is a criminal justice major at Metropolitan State University and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2018.

CommonBond Communities is thrilled to welcome Jamal Adam (far left) and Lakeisha Lee (left) as its inaugural Board Associates. CommonBond created the Board Associates initiative out of a belief that having a diversity of perspectives on our Board of Directors is vital to understanding and working with the people and communities we serve. This belief is a key component of CommonBond’s Inclusion Council charter. CommonBond also wants to expand the opportunity for influence, network building, and leadership experience to people who may not traditionally be considered for Board membership. “We believe this program will benefit both our organization and the Associates, and will ultimately increase the nonprofit leadership talent pool in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest,” said CommonBond CEO Deidre Schmidt. “These two individuals stood out from a pool of excellent candidates because of their life experiences, their commitment to serve, and their eagerness to work with a Board mentor.”

Older Adults Put Pencil to Paper

A Note From the President

Residents from CommonBond’s Riverview Senior Housing in Minneapolis were proud to share their drawings in an exhibition at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). The event was the culmination of a nine-session program called “Crossing the Line: Drawing Practices For and With the Older Adult” – offered in conjunction with The Drawing Project, which aims to collaborate with, encourage, and engage diverse local and global perspectives on contemporary drawing through workshops and classes.

Deidre Schmidt

“I took an art course in junior high that I loved. Thanks to EngAGE I’m dabbling in it again.”-participant Instructors led residents through drawing exercises and encouraged the development of skills, techniques, and strategies, as well as continuing their personal drawing practice strategies. The sessions included guided teaching, demonstration, application of drawing techniques, and time for personal and group reflection. To offer this program to residents, CommonBond collaborated with EngAGE – a California nonprofit that’s expanding its reach to Minnesota – to see how a whole-person approach to creative and healthy aging can be beneficial to the health and well-being of older adults. CommonBond’s first collaboration with EngAGE was through a storytelling initiative held early in 2017.

All are Welcome Here

A new school year is upon us, and we’re recruiting for Study Buddies! Adults serve as a mentor to a CommonBond youth who needs a boost to help them succeed in school. Weekly commitment. Various locations. Visit or contact Arbor at 651-290-6226 or for more information.

You just might change a child’s life—and your own

Volunteer as a Study Buddy! @CommonBondComm

Commonbond Communities


An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Organization





CommonBond recently hung “All are Welcome Here” posters at our central office and at every CommonBond housing community across Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. This campaign focused on inclusion as an initiative of CommonBond’s Inclusion Council. We’re also taking the message of inclusivity to social media: check out our Twitter and Facebook accounts for the full photo campaign!

This summer, I took a week off of work to ride a bike with over 100 other people to raise funds for a housing cause. Maybe you’ve heard of an organization called Habitat for Humanity?! Along the 500+ miles, I met so many individuals who care deeply about their communities and other people – and who recognize how essential a stable home is. I learned quite a bit about how families qualify to receive a Habitat home, including the fact that credit history is a major barrier for their homeowners. The truth is that homeownership is a huge responsibility and not every person or family is ready for it for a variety of reasons. I was reminded of the importance of our work at CommonBond. Quality affordable rental housing options continue to become increasingly scarce in this hot rental market. I’m proud that we’re building new homes and preserving what already exists. Services at all of our housing communities support families in building the future they aspire to – whether that’s saving for a down payment, cleaning up their credit scores, or helping to improve their child’s reading skills. Please join us in supporting our residents’ journeys by volunteering or giving to CommonBond. Visit for more information or to donate online.

Shining On and Off the Court with the Minnesota Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx basketball team recently showed its commitment to CommonBond’s mission at two of its home games. During halftime of a July game, representatives of the 3-time Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) champions presented a check for $4,000 to CommonBond staff and youth residents from the Lynx’s Fast Break Foundation. The funds go toward teen programs at CommonBond’s Skyline Tower, Granada Lakes Townhomes, and Torre de San Miguel communities. On September 1, CommonBond was the Lynx’s “nonprofit of the game,” an opportunity for CommonBond to be honored at halftime and to share its mission through a Public Service Announcement by Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen.

Commonbond Fall Newsletter 2017