Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The North Minneapolis Element of 2040 is Finally Here! Sort of.

Stock photo from a previous north Minneapolis 2040 meeting.

Well, it's here.  CM's Cunningham and Ellison have released their joint...plan? proposal? talking points? about how the 2040 Plan will be utilized to benefit north Minneapolis.  It is, without a doubt, a lot of talking points.  But it lacks a certain something.  I will not mince words; this is a series of platitudes that north Minneapolis has heard for years leading up to this plan, and the addition adds nothing of substance to the discourse or concrete actions that may be taken as we move (presumably) forward.  The entirety of the writing can be found in the first link above, and the housing section is quoted here.
The City of Minneapolis will reverse the institutional harms caused to the Northside community by building on the many assets of the community while also prioritizing community wealth building in the form of housing, small business, public safety, youth opportunities, and environmental justice by:
Action Steps
1. Taking actions to stabilize housing stock by increasing homeownership in interior residential areas with a focus on supporting first-time, first-generation homebuyers, and provide “right to return” supports to homebuyers with historic ties to the community, such as those displaced by rising rents or foreclosure or returning home after completing higher education.
2. Increasing access to affordable housing options in neighborhoods, particularly multifamily housing along transit corridors.
To which I respond with the following series of questions...


What specific actions will you take to stabilize housing stock by increasing home ownership?  Will you build on existing partnerships or create new ones?  What are the current barriers to home ownership that you have identified for the area of north Minneapolis?  For residents who live here?  For those who want to live here, or have been displaced and want to return?

What kind of support do you envision providing to those wishing to return after being displaced?  Given that such displacement often occurred (whether rightly or wrongly) due to eviction, foreclosure, a criminal record, or a combination of those things, what will you do to provide stable, affordable housing to households with such barriers?  If your goal is to create home owners from this group, what will you do specifically to help people in those circumstances qualify for a mortgage in either the short or long term?

One of the centerpieces of the 2040 Plan is to allow for triplex (formerly fourplex) construction virtually anywhere throughout the city.  In previous writings I have demonstrated that this addition will not create wealth through ownership for north Minneapolis residents on a meaningful scale, may not attract much investment at all to our vacant lots compared to existing housing elsewhere, and may in fact revive problems from past slumlord activity.  Those claims have not been refuted.  Please either explain why my conclusions were incorrect or demonstrate how the actions in this northside-specific segment will address them.

Another potential change is to create inclusionary zoning that would require a certain percentage of affordable housing units be part of any new construction of a certain size.  The reality of multifamily new construction in north Minneapolis is that it simply doesn't happen without a significant percentage of the units classified as affordable.  In light of this dynamic, how will the 2040 Plan improve upon affordable housing creation on the northside?  To the degree that the Plan in its initial phase was insufficient in this regard, how will your addition to the Plan address that gap?

The 2040 Plan already intended to increase the availability of (presumably) affordable housing, especially along transit corridors.  North Minneapolis already has a high amount of vacant parcels along transit corridors, much of which is city- or county-owned yet has not seen a demand from investors to build on.  How will the Plan or your addition change that lack of investment, and what steps will you take to make sure that northside residents and businesses benefit and build wealth from the new influx of development?

None of the problems identified in the additional comments are new, and in fact most of them are decades and even generations old.  Knowing that these were entrenched, endemic, and long-term issues, why were they not sufficiently addressed in either the first or second iteration of the Plan?  Why was the northside given less than three weeks to review, consider, and respond to a proposal that is most pertinent to our community and drafted by our two council members?  Will there be public meetings on the northside for affected communities to weigh in prior to the anticipated vote on December 7?  If not, will you commit to delaying the vote to give the community enough time to weigh in?

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