July 12, 2021
Wayzata Community Church Congregational Spotlight
by Dylan Novacek, Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative
“The core of our congregation has always been one of inclusivity,” reflected Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Senior Minister at Wayzata Community Church. “We’re a congregation that believes in the local community. Being part of the Beacon collaborative means we can do more than we ever could on our own!”
Services at Wayzata Community Church end with the question from the prophet Micah, “What does the LORD require of us?” They answer, “To do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” Through their collaboration with Beacon and their support for Cranberry Ridge, the congregation lives out their deepest values.
“For more than a decade, we’ve looked to Beacon as our guide in this housing work,” Rev. Ross exclaimed. “In 2013 we went through an extensive mission and vision process. We came out with the realization that if we had an idea we could accomplish on our own, then it just wasn’t big enough.”
Committed to collaboration, Rev. Ross looks back on his congregation’s Beacon journey and the road it took to see that Cranberry Ridge became a reality.
“Anything that we try to get done in this world should require collaboration and partners beyond our congregation. Beacon gives an expression to that conviction. I remember when we held a convening. At least a dozen other congregations joined us on a Saturday morning. There was this energy in the room; a shared sense of the power we have when we work as a collaborative,” he reflected and smiled.
“Several years later, we gathered again at the Plymouth City Council meeting to demonstrate our will and interest for Cranberry Ridge. There were a lot of familiar faces from the convening, as well as some new individuals who joined along the way. That night, Cranberry Ridge was approved!”
With shovels hitting the ground, construction at Cranberry Ridge has begun. Every day we get closer to 45 deeply affordable homes for families becoming a reality. Wayzata Community Church has shown a steady commitment to the creation of these homes through instrumental early investment and sustained advocacy.
As these new homes get closer to becoming a reality, Rev. Ross and his congregation eagerly look forward to supporting residents as they move in by working with our service provider at Interfaith Outreach.
“The prospect of working with families who would occupy the building was key for our congregation,” he continued. “It’s about the names and faces from all walks of life. The opportunity to come alongside them and be in relationship with these families.
“This is the impact of faith and collaboration over the long haul. Something that has stood out most in our Beacon journey is how long and sustained it has been. We’ve been growing together. Beacon educates us in our understanding of how these homes disrupt unjust systems.”
Rev. Ross and the congregation embrace the shared values of our work together, growing our power and centering home as the foundation for life.
“Home is the context within which we can love and be loved,” he passionately states. “People who live in homelessness live in a state of fear. I’d imagine that to be the most debilitating feeling in the world…Home is the best shot we have at loving each other and being loved by others in return.”
Looking ahead, Wayzata Community Church eagerly awaits the opening of Cranberry Ridge, mindful of the long journey it’s taken to get here. Relentless collaboration, bold early investments, and sustained advocacy are what it takes to create homes for families like those at Cranberry Ridge. These efforts continue as we look to newer family housing initiatives like Vista 44, Emerson Village and Prairie Pointe. This is the collaborative at work.
“I hope that Cranberry Ridge becomes a center of life. A center of community. A hub of activity. I hope and pray it is a place of transformation for people. A safe haven for families.
May 25, 2021
Construction Begins on Cranberry Ridge
Cranberry Ridge will add 45 new apartment homes with on-site support services in Plymouth.
PLYMOUTH, MN, May 25, 2021 – Construction on Cranberry Ridge apartments means families will soon have more options for affordable housing in Plymouth.
The development by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative (Beacon) features 45 apartments for families who earn less than $52,000 a year for a family of four. Twelve of the homes will be for families who make less than $31,000 a year for a family of four. Underground parking, a fitness center, community lounge, and youth and adult program space will be among the amenities offered at the building, located at 18220 Highway 55 in Plymouth.
“Affordable homes like Cranberry Ridge are an essential investment in the strength and stability of families and our communities,” remarked Lee Blons, CEO / President of Beacon. “Plymouth is a great community for children to grow strong foundations for the bright futures they deserve, and we are grateful for the City and community partners who are helping ensure affordable housing is an option for suburban families.”
One of the partners for Cranberry Ridge is Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners, which will provide onsite support services tailored to residents. Through their Neighborhood Program model, families and staff engage in cross-sector systems – education, employment, local government, social services, property management, and mental health – to explore opportunities and address needs identified by residents.
“Interfaith Outreach is honored to be the onsite service provider. This partnership allows Interfaith to expand its Permanent Supportive Housing program and establish its tenth Neighborhood Program,” stated Kevin Ward, Executive Director of Interfaith Outreach.
Congregations of Beacon’s collaborative recognized the immense need for quality, affordable homes for families in the suburban Twin Cities, and organized private and public funding and community support to move Cranberry Ridge forward. Hundreds of people attended city council meetings to support the creation of homes embracing a vision of an economically and racially diverse community.
“Nothing big or lasting happens quickly,” remarked Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Senior Minister at Wayzata Community Church, whose congregation is part of the collaborative. “Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative has been our guide for more than a decade. With their steady and thoughtful leadership, we’ve been able to achieve the goal of bringing more affordable home options for families in our neighborhood. Without any concern for who gets the credit, great things get done in the world!”
The Plymouth Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and Metro HRA each awarded 10 rental assistance vouchers to ensure the homes will remain affordable for future residents with the lowest incomes. Capital funders include the local nonprofit Outreach Development Corporation, Minnesota Housing, Hennepin County, Wayzata Community Church, Plymouth HRA, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, and Wells Fargo. General contractor Shaw-Lundquist, architect BKV Group, and civil engineer Loucks have worked on the planning and development. Many individual donors provided seed funding to support the planning, organizing, and technical work to get Cranberry Ridge approved and fully financed.
Ken Dayton, Chair of Outreach Development Corporation (ODC), a funding partner of the development, states, “We and Interfaith Outreach celebrate Cranberry Ridge and the cross-sector partnerships that made it possible. Cranberry Ridge is a terrific housing option for families and kids of our community and a prime example of the power of public/private investment in quality affordable housing with services that provide opportunities for residents to build safe and strong futures.”
The development comes at a crucial time, as families across the metro face increasing obstacles to housing stability. The pandemic exacerbated underlying concerns about soaring home prices, slow wage growth, and new jobs skewing toward minimum wage positions. “All of these pressures are adding up and forcing more and more people to stretch their budgets to afford a decent apartment to raise their children,” remarked Blons. “The housing crisis is disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous, and people of color – people who’ve systematically been denied access to quality housing right here in the Twin Cities for generations. Beacon believes that families should have a choice for where they want to live,” she continued. “The homes at Cranberry Ridge will allow families to live and learn and work and grow in a community they love and continue to invest in its prosperity.”
Construction on the building could be completed as early as Summer 2022, with residents moving in shortly after.