Neighbors of MN
We are probably the most affordable housing in Downtown Rochester for people who need housing. We offer furnished housing. We’re not the newest properties in town, but we’ve remodeled our apartments and duplexes, and we keep them clean and nice.
I’ve rented to a couple of refugee families through Catholic Charities. One family was from Eritrea, a small African country. It was fun to love on this family. I gave the father a bike, since he walked to work. We gave them our Wii after our kids had outgrown it, and it was fun to try to teach the kids how to use the Wii. They didn’t speak any English and they were kind of closed off. We thought it would be a nice gesture to give them something for the kids to do during the long winter.
We also rent to lots of families who come in from all over the world for treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Many of these international families are temporarily living in Rochester for 6-months to a year.
I tell my managers when communicated with our non-English speaking tenants, “louder English doesn’t work.” I had one manager and his voice would just get louder and louder. “We don’t need to shout at them.”
Communication can be tough; but a smile goes a long ways, and laugher helps with communication. Make light of the situation. We resort to a lot of pointing to figure out what’s not working. We always make sure to assure our renters that we are going to try to take care of them.
When more refugees move to Rochester in the future, I would be happy to rent to them. From a business stand point, it’s a great idea to rent to refugees. The refugees we rent to have a lot of support. They have the support of resettlement agencies. They have resources if they fall behind on rent or lose a job. They have more resources than the average married couple.
They are very respectful because they are so grateful to be here. They are going to be hard workers. It takes a lot of grit just to get to America. They are going to treat your building or apartment with respect. You have the humanity side of it too. It feels good to rent to refugees and to help other people.
I studied International Business in college and traveled abroad a lot. Now I am utilizing some of the things I learned about other cultures, and bringing that experience to my little world in Rochester.
It is fun to have a small little melting pot that we get to help. We become friends with these people from all over the world. You say hi to them and they are happy to be here.
Greg is the owner of Regency Apartments and owns dozens of rental units in Rochester, MN.