Linda Taylor of Minneapolis received a notice to vacate her Powderhorn Park rental home of nearly 20 years at the end of January. Her landlord wanted to sell. Taylor, a 70-year-old retiree who had raised her five children in the Phillips and Powderhorn communities, didn't know where to go.
She happened to tell a neighbor of her plight. Word got around the block that Taylor, who was always volunteering in the neighborhood and chatting up passersby from her porch, needed help. Soon, neighbors helped her broach a pact with landlord Greg Berendt: If he would give Taylor until the end of June, they would help raise enough money to buy her home.
As of May 31, a full month ahead of deadline, Taylor officially closed on the house at 10th Avenue S. and E. 36th Street after raising $275,000.
She said Thursday that she hasn't yet fully digested the impassioned grassroots campaign that kept her in the neighborhood — involving a petition, block party fundraiser, art sale, pro bono work by real estate agent Shari Seifert and copious small donations from people who were touched by her story.
"I'm not going anywhere now," Taylor said. "It's saying a lot about my neighbors, and a lot about my community. Without them, this wouldn't have been possible."
Longfellow's Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, whose Stepping Out in Faith committee works on housing issues in south Minneapolis, threw in six figures.
"It's a modern day miracle," said the Rev. Angela Khabeb, who thanked landlord Berendt for having a change of heart and working with neighbors to close the deal. "People need to be able to walk by that house, and even if they gave $5, they know, 'I helped Miss Linda stay in this house. We won.'"
Neighborhood organizer Jenny Jones said the experience brought together like-minded people who want to do more to prevent displacement in Minneapolis as the last COVID-era renter protections fade and evictions rise above pre-pandemic levels.
"This is a really hard time in Minnesota," she said. "We wanted to take a stand on for our beloved community member staying here … but we will be continuing to meet and figuring out how we can keep our community together and what we can do to support others who might be struggling with rent."
Jones emphasized that Taylor's whirlwind campaign started with her confiding in a single neighbor.
"I know there's a lot of people out there that are too scared to tell or don't know what to do," she said. "Tell people so we can help you."
A block party to celebrate is scheduled for June 25 on the 1000 block of E. 36th Street, starting at 11 a.m.