Our Neighbors' Place

Photo provided by the City of River Falls

In March, the City of River Falls City Council approved a $300,000 loan for Our Neighbors’ Place, Inc. to purchase 122 W. Johnson St., a property the organization had been renting since 2014. Terms of the loan include a 2% interest rate over 20 years.

“We are grateful to the Mayor, staff and City Council for their work to approve the loan,” said ONP Executive Director Shelly Smith. “It will allow us to grow our operations so that we can continue to provide vital services to community members in need.”  

Established in 2009, ONP focuses on four core programs including a day center, clothing closet, transitional housing and the backpack program. From 2014 to 2019, ONP has seen a consistent increased need for services with recorded points of contact numbers increasing from 989 in 2014 to 4,870 in 2019 – more than a 600% increase.

One of the services provided by ONP is the Clothing Closet, a volunteer-run secondhand store that is open to the public and supports ONP’s clothing voucher program, the building at 122 W. Johnson St. Since purchasing the building in March, ONP has been able to expand the store space, create a COVID safe environment for volunteers, staff and guests, while also looking towards the future. “As an organization, this is our home,” said Smith. 

The building also houses the Day Center, which provides case manager services for those experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, works with organizations in a 7-county area to provide housing voucher assistance, collaborates with subsidized housing providers to connect those in need with resources, serves as a mailing location for those not housed and provides motel vouchers as well as an onsite warming shelter, restroom, shower, laundry and kitchen.

According to Amy Peterson, the City’s community development director, the City utilized a housing reserve fund to provide the loan. The fund has been used for the Habitat Eco Village loan, a previous ONP loan for transitional housing, an analysis of the River Falls Housing Authority and the River Falls Comprehensive Housing Needs Analysis.

“ONP’s services for those seeking short-term refuge or longer-term affordable housing align with the City’s commitment to provide increased housing opportunities in River Falls,” said  Peterson. “Being able to support ONP’s goals and strengthen the City’s relationship with an important non-profit partner meets two goals in one.”

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