Post by Steve Nelson, Amicus Communications Director
Amicus is preparing to make an important move in the next few weeks. We’re moving out of our downtown Minneapolis office and setting up shop in south Minneapolis,
The lease is expiring at Amicus’ current office and the going rental rate for quality property in this area of downtown has increased beyond Amicus’ means. In order to be responsible stewards of our ever-tightening resources, we decided to explore other possibilities for a new location. After a long search, we found a great facility which was owned by Urban Ventures, a nonprofit agency doing important work with some of the same clientele we work with.
It strikes me how many of the factors which we considered in our decision to move are related to challenges our clients might be struggling with in their reentry.
One of the key decision points for us relating to any new location was the ability of our clients to reach us via transit. That’s something those of us blessed with a reliable car don’t spend much time worrying about. In many cases I prefer to use transit, but if need be, I’ve got my noisy old Camry available to get me there too. Those reentering society after a prison sentence almost never have that choice. When choosing where to work or where to look for an apartment, transit is a huge factor. Our new location has the best of both worlds – multiple transit options and free parking.
We struggled with finding affordable, quality space. It’s not difficult to find quality space if budget isn’t an issue. It’s also not difficult to find affordable space that is in poor repair. Many of our clients report how difficult it can be to find housing that supports their desire for a new start. Their search can be even more difficult because landlords are reluctant to rent to someone with a felony record. Much of the housing available for them can be depressing and located in unsafe neighborhoods. We felt some of the same tensions in looking for space for an agency that provides in-house services for ex-offenders. We were lucky to find a kindred spirit in Urban Ventures, an agency that understands the necessity of what we offer.
Finally there’s an emotional tie to the familiar. Amicus has been in downtown Minneapolis since 1969. Our staff know all the nooks and crannies – where the coffee shops are, where you can get the best Greek food (it’s at Trieste Cafe’ by the way), who our neighbors are and which ones are cool with what we do; how to navigate the streets and skyways. It’s comfortable. People coming out after incarceration are often tempted to go back to the same friends, locations and situations that landed them in prison in the first place. Even if they recognize it’s bad for them, seeing a friendly face and walking down a familiar street can be so comforting! As an agency we need to take the advice we often give to them. We need to go out in a new neighborhood, introduce ourselves to those who might be supportive friends and show our value as good neighbors.
At Amicus we know the power of friendship and we know the power of change. More than ever these days, we’re learning that friendship and change are inextricably woven together.
Amicus is moving to 3041 Fourth Avenue S., near Fourth Avenue and Lake Street. We’ll be closed for moving on Friday, June 22 and Monday, June 25 and will reopen for business in our new south Minneapolis neighborhood on Tuesday, June 26. We expect to have at least one open house and we’re excited to bring our friends and volunteers into our new space for support groups and community meetings. If you live or work in the area, please drop in and introduce yourselves. Our aspiration is as clear as our name. We’d like to be friends.