Jeremiah Program (copy)

A rendering depicts what the Jeremiah Program facility in Northwest Rochester might look like.

A $1 million contribution has pushed the Jeremiah Program to its fundraising goal for building a Rochester campus after three years of planning and raising money.

As some of its first local participants struggle with homelessness, the nonprofit program plans to have a 40-unit housing complex completed next year.

The $1 million gift from Harper Family Foundation rounded out commitments to move the project forward, with plans to break ground on its $16.5 million campus on July 29.

“This generous gift keeps us on track for transformational programming aimed at single mothers and their families,” said JoMarie Morris, executive director Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minnesota. “From the first discussions to these final dollars, all sectors of the community have rallied to bring this project to fruition.”

Jeremiah Program is a national nonprofit aimed at ending the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time. The impetus for bringing the project to the area stemmed from the rising number of low-income, single-mother households, lack of affordable housing and the increased need for a trained workforce.

A dozen mothers and their children are already active in the local program, and 15 more families are waiting to start the empowerment program.

With many aspects of the program in full swing, Morris said the need for the campus housing is amplified.

Nearly a third of the families in the program or waiting to start are facing homelessness.

“There are six families that are essentially homeless who are in couch-hopping-type situations,” she said. “A couple are safe, and a couple are not in the best situation.”

Three other families are in transitional housing but will need to move before the campus is completed in the summer of 2020.

On Tuesday, Olmsted County Commissioner Ken Brown, who sits on the Jeremiah Program board, suggested the county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority could find a way to secure temporary housing support.

“Rather than lose them and throw them back into the system, because we know we’re going to pay for it someplace, we can give them rental assistance or some way to bridge them,” he said.

Morris plans to attend the July 16 Housing and Redevelopment Authority board meeting to discuss a request.

She said the goal is to keep families on the path toward future success.

“Jeremiah really hits all the hot buttons,” she said. “Our program addresses a career-track education for moms, quality early childhood education, secure housing, training, and support services all on one campus. We bundle critical services to better serve our clients enabling them to do the hard work of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. A win for the entire community.”

When completed, the 64,000 square-foot campus will house 40 families and offer wrap-around services. Prerequisite for enrollment includes attending Jeremiah’s signature Empowerment Training.

“This course and our after-care plan are intense,” she said. “The women are building a sisterhood necessary to support one-another and learning critical techniques from coaches for keeping their family stable.”

As efforts move forward, an additional $350,000 fundraising push continues for outfitting the apartments, classrooms, offices and common areas.

“We are so close to creating a space of welcome and promise,” Morris said. “The community continues to rally. We need help to finish this last element of the building project.”

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Local Government Reporter

Randy is the Post Bulletin's local government reporter, covering the city of Rochester and Olmsted County, as well as Destination Medical Center efforts. He joined the Post Bulletin staff in 2014.