A joint effort between Neighborhood House, the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD), and several business partners has resulted in a return of the community organization to St. Paul’s Highland Park, where it temporarily had to shut down operations due to the economy.
The Neighborhood House, a nonprofit agency that provides social services and assistance to immigrants and low-income communities, is mostly known for programs operated out of the Wellstone Center, located at 179 Robie Street on St. Paul’s West Side, but for five years they also had a location in St. Paul’s Highland Park, where they served mainly East African immigrants and refugees. Unfortunately, funds for the cost of the four apartments where the East St. Paul location operated weren’t renewed last year, and the facility had to be shut down, according to Armando Camacho, President of the Neighborhood House.
Now Neighborhood House will share a storefront with SPPD’s new substation in Sibley Plaza on West Seventh and Davern Street.
Camacho said that Neighborhood House approached Sibley Manor initially, hoping that they would be able to donate an apartment for the organization’s use. Sibley Manor owns low-income rental property in the area, so it was in their best interest, Camacho said, for a community organization to exist nearby to offer support and assistance to the many low-income residents. In the year that the former facility has been closed, many people that Neighborhood House served were not getting the help they needed because transportation to the West Side location was too far, and took two buses to get there.
When Sibley Manor found out about the dilemma, they suggested the idea that Neighborhood House share a space with the SPPD substation. Paster Enterprises, which owns the storefront, donated the space, and Sibley Manor offered to pay the utilities.
Neighborhood House already had a relationship with SPPD. There’s a substation located in the Wellstone Center, and Police Chief John Harrington is on the organization’s board. In addition to sharing the space with SPPD, the two organizations will also have regular community meetings and look toward expanded partnerships between police and residents. “We want to develop relationships,” Camacho said.
“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” Camacho said. “It’s an example of finding creative solutions when the economic times get difficult.”
CORRECTION: Our commenters are right – it’s Highland Park, not the East Side. My bad – should have caught this in editing. – Mary Turck