After recession and tornado, City can help North Minneapolis rebuild

One of many Northside City-owned lots available.

One of many Northside City-owned lots available.

Ten years ago a sub-prime mortgage crisis was decimating the Northside housing market, part of a national foreclosure epidemic that helped trigger the worst downturn in the U.S. economy since the Great Depression.

Then on May 22, 2011 a tornado struck North Minneapolis. In addition to leaving one person dead, the storm left dozens of others homeless and hundreds scrambling to repair or rebuild homes.

For those who could not recover, properties were lost to foreclosure. Many homes were eventually razed, and vacant lots now pepper the Northside.

Those lots cost the City money—up to a few thousand dollars a year in maintenance, according to the Minneapolis City Council. Additionally, widespread vacant lots contribute to blight that impacts everything from neighboring land values to community crime rates.

Now the city has a plan to reduce the number of vacant lots on the Northside and throughout Minneapolis. It’s an incentive program targeted at prospective homeowners to reduce the stock of some 400 city-owned vacant properties.

For those who purchase and build on a razed property, the city is providing $20,000 in subsidies—$25,000 if you’re a public school teacher, police officer, firefighter or EMT. The program is meant to decrease blight while helping people with limited incomes own a home.

Developers also have the opportunity to capitalize on this plan meant to energize Northside neighborhoods. They may receive up to $75,000 for each unit built on vacant lots. In order to benefit from incentives, developers’ residences must be financially accessible to people earning up to 80 percent of the area median income.

Individuals purchasing homes face no income restrictions but must stay in them for at least five years. The intent is to revitalize neighborhoods by bringing in residents eager to set down roots and be part of the community.

This program—officially called Minneapolis Homes—is administered by the Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department of the city government. For info visit minneapolismngov/cped or call 612-673-3000.