Grand Terrace Photo League

Organization and community: Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (Southwest region, MN)

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The Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership engaged artist Nik Nerburn at the Grand Terrace, a large affordable housing complex, to help better understand the needs of Worthington's residents. This would inform their efforts to decrease the poverty gap. Through this photography project, Nerburn created a safe place for youth and their families to tell their stories and voice their needs through a process of taking “family portraits.” Nik heard from residents that what they “craved was not material, but respect and dignity.” His project also revealed that access to public services was a significant challenge. Nik proposed an indoor winter gathering space for socializing and physical activity, tutoring, computer literacy, and a resident social worker. Property managers commented that residents, especially the kids, had “more energy” and they were “taking more ownership of the space than before.” As a housing developer and manager of numerous housing complexes serving marginalized communities, the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership is utilizing this valuable insight into the development of their buildings and services.