There might be one silver lining to Sunday's deadly tornado that ripped through north Minneapolis.
The city is looking to buy and rebuild some of the houses that were battered in the storm, using the same strategy it used to turn around abandoned homes during the foreclosure crisis.
Now residents and housing advocates are hoping for a rebirth on some of the north side's most blighted blocks.
The north side was the city's ground zero for the mortgage meltdown. Banks foreclosed on properties here about a year earlier than in other parts of Minneapolis, and in bigger clusters.
A lot of the houses that took a beating in the tornado were already in poor shape to begin with.
Homeowner Joan Glenny blames slumlords for some of the eyesores on her block. Glenny and her grown son, Kory Holmes, live on Russell Avenue, where the tornado blazed a trail of punctured roofs and trees snapped in half like toothpicks.
Glenny pointed to an empty house across the street that saw its share of turnover, thanks to a careless house-flipper.
"What they've done to this house is horrific. How long did it sit vacant?" Glenny asked.
"It sat vacant for 15 years," said Holmes. "The guy rented it out to some people. They moved out a few months later because it was full of mold. Then he had some more people move in. They moved in a couple months later because it was full of mold. And then they had some more people who moved in. And three days later, they had a shootout in front of the house."
The mother and son are holding out hope that the city can scoop up some of the most troubled properties and turn them into something better.
And that is the long-range plan.
Minneapols Director of Housing Policy and Development Tom Streitz said the city will expand on its strategy for buying foreclosed homes: Focus on the blocks with the most damage, rehab the houses that are salvageable, tear down the worst ones, and then rebuild.
Streitz said the program has worked well with north side foreclosures. Out of the 300 houses the city has fixed up through partnerships with community homebuilders, he said all but 20 have sold.
"People are buying the homes. Every house that we've rehabbed and put on the market is selling," said Streitz. "That says we have a winning formula, and we know how to do this work. Now we just have to bring it to scale."
His vision is to build energy-efficient homes that will attract buyers.
And what about renters? Do they have a place in the future of north Minneapolis?
"Renters need a place to live, but the single-family home renter phenomenon is unnatural," said Fifth Ward City Council Member Don Samuels, who represents parts of north Minneapolis. "The houses were not built for that kind of a use, so very often houses take a beating, and in the short term they go downhill. "
Samuels says more multi-family apartment buildings must be part of the rental housing solution if the north side wants to improve its neighborhoods. Single-family rental homes, he says, are a drain on everyone. Not only for city inspectors, but the property owner, too, who Samuels says is often surprised and overwhelmed by it.
"Instead of one furnace, one boiler, and one roof and four walls, for 40 units, you have 40 roofs, 40 sets of walls, 40 boilers, and 40 furnaces, and 40 sidewalks, and 40 yards. It takes a high capacity manager and a high-quality tenant to make it work," said Samuels.
Minneapolis housing officials caution that it will likely take one to three years before the city can reshape neighborhoods hit by the tornado. The effort would require millions of dollars and new funding partners. Another challenge is that many of the bank-owned homes involve complex ownership structures. Even determining who the owner is will be a task in itself.
But right now, the city is focused on the more urgent needs of finding housing for families left homeless by the storm. They're referring residents to affordable rentals in the area. Officials estimate that 60 to 70 percent of houses in the affected neighborhoods are occupied by renters. That adds a layer of complexity, because most renters don't have insurance that would help pay for temporary housing at a hotel.
So far, inspectors have deemed nearly 150 houses unlivable.
One of those houses, on Lowry Avenue, is owned by landlord Terry Englund. Earlier this week, Englund took a breather after hauling out furniture belonging to his tenant of 17 years. The storm sucked the attic right off the top of the house.
Englund says he feels helpless that he can't do more for his tenant.
"It's just unbelievable. We feel sorry that we got no place for her to go," said Englund. It sure would be nice if we could do something, because you don't want to lose tenants like that. Good people are hard to find."
Englund isn't sure what will happen to his property. He's waiting for his insurance company to tell him how much of his losses will covered. Englund says if can get the money, he'd like to do his part to rebuild the north side.
Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio News, Minneapolis.
(Jess Mador contributed to this report.)