Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Plop Fifty Units of Housing into a Low-Density Part of NoMi? Bad Idea.

 Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the Plymouth Christian Church Foundation website.

When I first heard of plans to put 48 units of rental housing at 18th and Emerson, where there is currently no such facility or density anywhere nearby, Several questions immediately popped to mind.  The proposal is misguided on so many levels that the rapid-fire questions kept coming before the last one could even be completed.  "Who the--?"  "What the--?  They can't possibly think that--?  I mean, where is there even space for--?  How does that fit--?  Isn't it zoned--?  And kids/daycare without green--?"

Thankfully, the Old Highland group put together a response (without my coordination) that completes my sentences and answers many of those questions.  The link under the photos above goes to one of the foundation's questionnaires, this link goes to their homepage, and you can click here for a Q&A document that in my opinion is inaccurate, misguided, or both.  This is the wrong spot to put up a four-story, 48-unit complex that calls for day care but has no open space for children to play outside.  If you want to even think about a complex like the one being proposed, take it up to Lowry Avenue, which was just rezoned for that kind of density.  Emerson and 18th is the wrong spot for this proposal.

Feel free to use the comment section to agree or disagree with me, but more importantly, come out to the community forum and weigh in on the topic.  That meeting is Thursday evening, 6-8 at UROC.

29 comments:

  1. I'm in favor of any new affordable housing that isn't run by a slumlord. This is 50 units that won't be housing people in crappy houses. What we need is more affordable housing and not less so please support this project.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is definitely an area where there is transition between the West Broadway business district and the surrounding neighborhood. The proposed building is in actuality taller than even the buildings on West Broadway. This transition area should step down, not step up height and density. I'm not against affordable housing, but maybe after hearing from the community, they will go back to the drawing board and come back with a plan that takes into consideration the community's concerns.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maybe I'll calm down after the meeting, but right now my reaction is that the initial proposal is just so awful that this group shouldn't get a second chance. At least at this particular site.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I want to know if any of the developers of this project actually live in North Minneapolis. Specifically in the neighborhood they're planning on building this building in.
    Seems to me like this is just another attempt at packing all the poor folks in to North Minneapolis so these fat cats don't have to deal with people in need in their own neighborhoods. Its shameful, the way they treat people without money like cattle or something, herding them all to designated areas. Why don't they just admit they're looking for a place to store the poor -and make a quick buck off them in the process. As long as they don't actually have to live with the problems that come with packing so much poverty into an area already dense with need, they don't care what impact its going to have on the people in the projects themselves, or the neighborhoods surounding these projects. There are no stores nearby that poor folks need accept for the cub and maybe walgreens. I tell you this much even poor folks don't want to be here if they have choice in the matter. You know why? Because there's already so much desperate people doing desperate things that there's no feeling safe here. Now we've got some developer wanting to make sure that North Minneapolis stays that way -full of need and desperate with not enough people willing to stay here who can meet those needs and ease that desperation. I don't see places like Edina falling all over itself to have themselves some projects built, and those folks are in a much better position to help support folks in need than most people around here.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous 11:37 PM i'm with you. We should have a law that for every new unit put into areas like North Minneapolis, two units need to go up in one of the wealthy suburbs. We should also provide transit to anyone moving out there to ensure they can get back to the city for jobs and to visit families.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Regarding the scale of the building, I don't think it's a reasonable argument to say that this building is too tall because it's taller than broadway. Broadway is currently dominated by 1-2 story buildings (a handful of buildings are 3 stories). The homes directly across the street from this proposed building are all 2.5 stories. The existing single-family-homes are taller than the existing commercial buildings on Broadway.

    We shouldn't scale buildings off the existing Broadway, we should scale buildings off the envisioned Broadway. Existing density on Broadway is way too low, and we would do well to envision more than 2-3 stories on Broadway.

    So, no, I don't agree that the proposed building is out of scale with the neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's a pretty good gig to start a non-profit and find ways to use taxpayer dollars on short term solutions that warehouse the poor based on religious convictions rather than facts...

    Who are these upscale "mixed Income" renters that will seeking apartments in this ghetto? The median family income for Minneapolis may be $45,000 a year; but not here in Hawthorne and Jordan! In fact, Habitat for Humanity is having a difficult time finding financially qualified applicants for it's single family homes.

    Anyone who lives in this community knows that a project that is as ill conceived as this one which crams 48 low income families into a 4 story building in a residential neighborhood will increase crime and bring down property values. I wouldn't hold my breath with the thought of providing housing for the May 2011 Tornado families as the flier suggests since this project is still in the conceptual stage.

    Without adequate security (property managers get the hell out of dodge at sundown),secure parking facilities, green space and recreational opportunities, etc...even Mother Theresa would be leery of moving into a building with a homeless day shelter.

    How will they get those homeless that are drawn to this shelter to stop loitering around the community during the evening? Who's garage or backyard will house these individuals?

    Whats this place going to be like in 20 years when the non-profit sponsoring it has dried up (churches depend on strong residential support)and all the public funds that are being used to build it can not be used for remodeling?

    We need to provide hope, higher standards, role models, and heightened expectations for all our residents. If we have inadequate rental properties lets address that issue by creating stiffer limits on landlords, not create a Cabrini Green type housing development in our residential neighborhoods.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've joined the opposition to this ill conceived future slum at my blog, BuffaloRidgeBlog.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to build two level housing for 25 units per floor. This way the community would be able to have more affordable housing but at a lower height. This should make for a safer structure, less far to fall etc.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The vote at tonight's meeting was counted in two categories. People who live in about a 4-block radius around the site were opposed to the proposal by a ratio of about 4-1. People who lived outside of that area but within 55411 supported the project by the same ratio.

    The tired accusation of racism came into play, but only AFTER people of various races had already spoken out on both sides of the issue.

    The NRRC board will make their decision whether to support or oppose, and will take this meeting's results into consideration. My prediction is that the design as presented won't go anywhere at all.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well I just want to say THANKS HAWKMAN for your coverage of the issue and facilitating this dialogue.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This project would be doing a disservice to the people they are trying to serve.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It just makes me sick that the church has it's hands in the "cookie jar" of government funds. If the Church has compassion then they need to give from their own hearts and build the unit with their own benevolence funds. I am so sick and tired of the fact that people base their compassion on someone else who has to pay in the taxes to fund these kinds of projects. Jesus didn't say force others to pay for the needs of others...He said from your own hearts give to the poor and needy. Government is going broke and we have this church helping it right along. From a pastor's heart I speak. This church should be ashamed of itself and repent for what they are doing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Screw my portfolio. I'm just going to start buying vacant lots and let people garden there. NO MORE 'EFFING RENTALS. GO AWAY!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. The city inspections department would probably shut you down on the garden idea.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Swap the soil out and "gorilla garden", what's the problem? Seems like the inspections dept. has their hands full already mainly dealing with rental properties. Are you going to call them if you see parents teaching their kids how to garden on a vacant lot, I'm not.

    ReplyDelete
  17. There are about a 1000 vacant properties on the North side already why isn't the nonprofit considering buying up those properties and rehabing them in concentrated areas. If you want to change around a neighborhood take great care of 4 or 5 houses on a block and see that block turn around. Please don't add to the problem by creating another huge complex only to be torn down 20 - 30 years from now like those South of Plymouth. But buying houses isn't as lucrative as a 48 unit building. So, how about buying 2 to 3 existing apartments, rehab those and take good care of them. I'm sure you can do this for much less then the $12 million proposed on the existing complex and the rest go to start a small business where jobs are needed! Some people just repeat the same mistakes and don't think outside the box. North Minneapolis needs resources so I welcome the $12 million but in a way that will build up my neighborhood. Engage, Think, Plan and bring both your heart and creativity to the table.

    ReplyDelete
  18. @Folwell Fox, I really like guerilla (or gorilla, however one wants to spell it) gardening, with two caveats: first, it's easier to ensure healthier soil by building raised beds and bringing in your own soil - and that gardening is better done where you actually have permission. And second, while it's doubtful that the city will uproot plants and fine gardeners, it could happen. Or in a few years or more, eventual development will bring an end to the garden.

    Still, I'd prefer to see vacant land put to use SOMEHOW.

    @Anon 6:37, responding to your comment is a perfect segue: Or maybe we just don't create so many vacant lots in the first place. You're hitting the nail on the head with the concentrated approach as well. We turned around the EcoVillage with the cluster approach and Urban Homeworks has their own model called pods. Pick a block or few, focus resources on crime prevention, housing code enforcement, help to owners so they meet those standards, and strategically acquire properties for development.

    Part of that strategy, like in the EcoVillage, can include higher density. This proposal however, is density for density's sake and doesn't serve the surrounding community well.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Guerrilla, right, my bad. Curious, we don't hear or use that term anymore in the media. Everybody is now just a terrorist, "garden variety" at that, HA! My neighbor and I are eying a location close to us to try. We're a little apprehensive about investing even more into North other than our homes but what the hell, the markets aren't doing much better!

    I hear you with the raised beds, that could be a possibility. Soil samples will be done through the U regardless. My main concern is all the lead paint that has been used over the decades on these lots. We of course stole this idea from Detroit residents, seems to work there okay. However, we would only attempt this and encourage it on our own property, so I guess it's really not true "guerrilla gardening". In 5-10 years maybe the lot(s) will be worth something to sell. In the meantime why not let others enjoy it FOR FREE? It gives neighborhood kids and parents a great way to spend time together. And, it's a great teaching and learning endeavour. It's just good 'ol fashion dirty-fun. Plus, it keeps the lots out of some suburban slumlord's hands. We have already discussed placing conditions on the lot(s) if we sell, such as a minimum 10 year homestead. And we know how to mow a lawn, have reserves for sidewalk and tree maintenance/ repair, and we know what marijuana plants look like (so don't even try it). If the city has a probably with it they can suck-on-my-garden-sack, we'll probably just do it anyway. The city can just look at it as a physical manifestation and tactile approach dovetailing into their ever elusive "Northside peace process"!

    ReplyDelete
  20. The NRRC board voted to take no action on the proposal for the time being. Can someone find the post on Facebook where this was spelled out? I'll look for it later if no one reposts it here first.

    ReplyDelete
  21. After many years here, I've decided I do support low income rental housing in the form of professionally managed buildings with the units being in one location, with professionaly maintained grounds and building up-keep. This is a much better set up than the single family homes which were not constructed for the rental lifestyle that we see these days, with yards tomaintain, sidewalks to shovel, and amatuer, absentee landlords who don't give a crap.

    However, I really ONLY support it IF the city would make a cap on rental licenses and rental units in a defined area and if building a development of 50 units means that 50 rental licenses to single family homes is taken away.

    IMO, limiting the number of rental liceneses per area is the only way the rental market will improve here in NoMi.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Here's the url to the post http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000630969802

    I'm glad to see no action was taken on this project. Not any good for the neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think what NOMI Passenger is proposing is called "Environmental Racism" and it is illegal. You can't legally remove renters from single family housing and stick them in a warehouse.

    However, as African Americans moved north into industrial communities after World War I and II, the picture of the urban ghetto began to develop. At the turn of the century, methods such as public improvement projects, redevelopment projects, public housing programs, and urban renewal policies were utilized to accomplish racial segregation. Other factors also contributed to the formation of the urban ghetto. Manufacturing jobs were lured away from the inner city with cheap land and low taxes. Industry moving from the city to the suburbs resulted in the creation of all-white suburban towns. Segregationist zoning ordinances, which divided city streets by race, coupled with racially restrictive covenants between private individuals became the common method of legally enforcing racial segregation.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think we already tried the idea being presented by Nomi Passenger. It didn't work however.

    In July 1992, attorneys for the Minnesota Legal Aid Society and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed suit in federal district court on behalf of a group of plaintiffs living in public housing in Minneapolis. The complaint in Hollman v. Cisneros, which was named for lead plaintiff Lucy Hollman, alleged that the public housing and Section 8 programs in Minneapolis perpetuated racial and low-income segregation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Where did I say that renters should be picked up and moved? No. I suggested that if a building opens with 50 units of rental units (regardless of rental rate low income, midincome market rate) then 50 licenses issued to single family homes should be NOT issued. It can be done by not renewing licenses at vacant houses, not issuing new liceneses, being tougher about revoking licenses of bad landlords etc.

    And the analogy to the Hollman lawsuit isn't applicable, presumably the renters that would potentially move into the proposed development being discussed here would be CHOOSING to go live there, the same way they choose to rent the house at 27/Irving, 43/Knox, 13/Olver, etc etc. Not warehoused, but living there by choice. Afterall, regardless of the rental license cap that I am suggesting, if this building were to rent up tomorrow, wouldn't it be by renters CHOOSING to go live there, not being forced?

    Furthermore, how is it any different than Hollman lawsuit if there is (pick a number) 5,000 rental licenses issued to 55411, 55412 and 55405 AND this building gets approved, along with the Gateway lofts (love income about to lease up) the Legacy Management development proposed for The Curve section of Wbro, the various Alliance Housing rental rehabs, the many Urban Homeworks rental rehabs, the numerous MPHA scattered sites and mutliunit projects already sprinkled about NoMi....

    No, rather, is someone is an advocate of the anti-concentration of poverty stances that came out of the Hollman decree, then they should be IN FAVOR of a rental license cap, not against it.

    ReplyDelete
  26. It would seem that shrinking the supply of rental licenses for single family homes while increasing the number of units of dense housing reduces choice. This reduction in choice, while not a "move" of low income renters has the net effect of limiting access to what is generally a preferred type of rental unit the single family home. This also concentrates poverty which is no longer legal.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'd like the anonymous commenter(s) to back up these claims with actual language from the Hollman ruling. It's also relevant that the site where this proposal is being suggested is not considered an "impacted area" in terms of where low-income housing can be placed. The incomes in the relevant census tract are too high.

    In fact, when the lack of such a status was recently pointed out to me, I was also told my estimation for a time frame for completion of this project is perhaps a year too long. It's actually easier to get funding for such projects in census tracts that are not considered an impacted area because in theory those developments will counter the concentration of poverty.

    This is quite ironic in that one or two blocks away we have plenty of poverty concentrated, but those are the rules.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I think that you are misunderstanding the discussion. Nomi Passenger is advocating building dense housing (not specifically this project) for low income citizens. At the same time she's proposing that rental licenses for single family homes be decreased by the same number as they are added on the side of warehousing the poor. While this project may not target low income her first comment was directed at projects designed to provide shelter for high numbers of low income persons in a rather small area of space. This is exactly what Hollman sought to destroy. The end result was the distribution of low income families to single family homes across Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs. I don't think pulling back on that success is where we want to go.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Anon 10:54, I think you are misunderstanding the discussion. Nomi Passenger said he/she would ONLY support this type of proposed development IF there were some kind of offset to the already high concentrations of rental housing in one area of the city. Nowhere did he/she advocate for building dense rental housing and packing it with low income citizens. These developments are already coming to our neighborhood reveiws and city planners, so how can we stay in compliance with the Hollman decree spirit and NOT concentrate poverty, well limiting the amount of rental that is concentrated in one area is one way to do that. Discussion here can be twisted and slanted to support a variety of standpoints but I can totally see what the Nomi Passenger commenter was suggesting.

    ReplyDelete