Homes for All MN collects and shares housing stories to to show lawmakers the challenges Minnesotans are facing when it comes to having a safe, stable and affordable home. By sharing your story, you play a key part in gaining the support and understanding of elected officials and furthering Homes for All's mission to advance housing stability for all Minnesotans. Anastasia's story is part of that effort. Join Anastasia in sharing your story, and thanks for supporting Homes for All!
When Anastasia’s parents immigrated from Russia to Minnesota, they never let on to their kids that they were sacrificing sleep to keep a roof over their heads.
“When my family moved here, they could barely afford an apartment,” Anastasia says. “They started a business providing housekeeping services for local companies, so they worked all night and barely slept. It was really hard but I don’t remember them ever being tired or complaining about it.”
Anastasia’s dad went to school for information technology, but faced barriers to getting a job in his field, often sensing that he was turned away from employment opportunities because of his accent. Anastasia’s aunts and uncles faced similar challenges — and access to affordable homes made all the difference in allowing them to establish roots and work toward their goals.
“My aunt and uncle got an affordable home, and my uncle was able to finish nursing school with, at the time, three kids,” she says. “Now he’s a nurse, and they have a good income.”
Anastasia’s husband, Michael, is also part of an immigrant family and seeking a career in the growing healthcare industry. “My husband is becoming a nurse, and I want to get a degree, too,” she says. “There are a lot of other stories besides the two of us. It’s important to invest in people so we can go to school, get degrees and still work… [An affordable home] helps you out by holding you.”
When Michael and Anastasia first married, juggling long work hours while living paycheck to paycheck put a lot of stress on their relationship. 1st Avenue Flats, an affordable housing complex in Rochester made possible through 4% tax credits and Economic Development and Challenge Fund dollars through Minnesota Housing, has given them the stability they need to build a life together.
1st Avenue Flats, made possible through 4% tax credits and Challenge Fund dollars through Minnesota Housing
Like her parents, though, Anastasia and her husband are working tirelessly. During the day, Michael works as a Patient Care Assistant at the Mayo Clinic and, at night, delivers pizza. He’s also working toward his RN and then his BSN. Anastasia is also a student, studying marketing and real estate. In addition to her job as a leasing agent for a property management company, she provides property caretaking services at 1st Avenue Flats in exchange for discounted rent. When she has a spare moment, she writes recipes and takes photographs for her food blog. She loves to edit photos and manipulate colors.
To Anastasia, it’s crucial to ensure immigrants and their families have an affordable place to live so that they have the resources to connect to opportunities within their communities.
“People come here for a reason from all these different countries,” she says. “My family left Russia because there were no opportunities for girls, and boys had to go into the army. My parents moved here because they had dreams — and we need to invest in those kind of people.”
Anastasia says that these investments have a ripple effect across communities and generations.
“All of the immigrants that came here at the same time as my parents started off in affordable housing, and are now running their own businesses, making jobs for other people,” Anastasia says. “Their kids are finishing school and getting great jobs. Sometimes when you come with nothing, you have all the ambition in the world to do the absolute best you can. My family literally came with two suitcases and $100. They worked hard, and now we’re living the American Dream.”