Rebuilding trust is essential to creating new neighborhood program

On May 17 the City Council voted to pass a framework for Neighborhoods 2020, toward the next iteration of neighborhood associations. They did so despite Councilmember Cunningham urging his colleagues not to pass a resolution that had not been seen by the public. He said, “I strongly disagreed with passing the proposed framework because of its automatic 25 percent funding cut to neighborhood associations. It also lacked overall program goals and a racial equity analysis.” He later stated in his Facebook post about the meeting, “Rebuilding this trust is essential to creating a transformative, inclusive neighborhoods program that works for everyone. To address the concerns I share with the Northside neighborhood associations and to rebuild trust in this process, I brought forward a robust staff direction that brings in a trusted community partner to complete the work.”

There were over 100 people who attended the May 17 meeting, and 42 that testified at Cunningham’s PCEC committee public hearing the week before regarding the proposed Neighborhoods 2020 framework by the City’s Neighborhood Community Relations Committee. All but a handful of those who testified were not in support of the framework as it was, many stated that the document ignored the work of three workgroups held last fall whose whole intent was to help with the preparation of a future program. The testifiers commented the framework didn’t include hundreds of public comments gathered, and that it read more like a regulatory document than a program that would foster an improved program toward the City’s Minneapolis 2040 Goal #14 plan. Equitable civic participation system: In 2040 Minneapolis will have an equitable civic participation system that enfranchises everyone, recognizes the core and vital service neighborhood organizations provide to the City of Minneapolis, and builds people’s long term capacity to organize to improve their lives and neighborhoods.

Understanding the difference:

NRP Investment Based Neighborhood Program: As Minneapolis’ population declined from 521,718 in 1950 to just 368,284 in 1990, the City was facing desperate times. MCDA Executive Director James Heltzer (June 1989) stated, “The elected officials 20 years from now cannot prevent this… We must have our neighborhoods effectively function as the basic building blocks of this revitalization plan. It is their planning, their priorities, their needs that are the driving force–the engine–that will make revitalization a reality.” The City Council at that time took the time to design and implement an unprecedented program. The first neighborhoods were selected in 1991. First neighborhood action plans were approved in 1992, the last Phase I Action Plan was approved in 2007 and overall $184 million was allocated through 67 Phase I plans and in addition $41.2 million was approved in 71 additional plans in Phase II.  The plan was based on investing in the City; 52.5 percent was invested into housing and led to many results; example,  Elliot Park Neighborhood reported in their Phase I Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) evaluation that their investments of $4 million of Phase I NRP funds leveraged more than $150 million dollars in development. (

According to data on 48 of the Minneapolis neighborhood organizations collected from their IRS 990 data from June 1-May31, 2009, these neighborhood organizations received $8,545,104 in NRP funds and during this period, they had a listed total of $22,449,097 in revenue, or showing $1.52 for every dollar of NRP funds provided to neighborhood associations.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) made up of multijurisdictional partners actually created and ran a program that sustained itself and leveraged investments all over the City. During Phase I the seven neighborhoods of Camden’s total NRP allotment totaled just over $12 million, 52.5 percent went immediately into housing which led to hundreds of home loans across every Camden Community neighborhood. For example: New affordable housing projects like Shingle Creek Commons’ 75 units of assisted living for seniors; Kingsley Commons 24 units of affordable housing for residents living with MS or other disabilities; Fathers and their Children Together housing on Lyndale; Humboldt Greenway Townhomes and single family homes; Camden Physicians Building renovation; new $13 million Humboldt Industrial Park site bringing in business and jobs on a former brownfield site, and much more. Public infrastructure improvement at schools, parks and business façade improvement projects, grant and loan programs, all helped foster further investments and jobs in our Camden Community.

NCR and 2019 Proposed Framework

NCR a Decade of Community Engagement

In 2009 the City took action and created an internal department to bring in-house the 70 neighborhood organization program, and created a team of staff and guidelines for a program that has been in place for the past 10 years. Each neighborhood contracts with the City to do community outreach, build its board capacity, build neighborhood relationships, and involve under-engaged stakeholders. There are no funds available for investing or leveraging currently. The seven neighborhoods of Camden’s total allotment for community engagement, outreach and events is down to just a little over $400,000.

The dedicated funding source that residents and elected officials sought from the State for the neighborhood organization program, the Consolidated Tax Increment Financing district, definitely had more than enough funding to fund a multi-year long-term program. The City is ending that district at the end of 2020. The City has also benefited from not only the leveraged hard work of dedicated volunteers to host various programs and events in each neighborhood organization, but the City has also chosen to do the following from the total Consolidated TIF: According to the 2018 report, it generated a total of $463.2M. Of that $230.6M went to the City, $79.3M County, $72.3M Target Center Debt (with $24M going to prepaying off the debt), and $49.9M to running the Neighborhood Community Relations Department for 10 years. $9.1M for NRP repayments (2017-2020), $1M encampment and $20M Affordable Housing, and $11M going to the MPRB’s NPP20 plan for a total of $165M when the consolidated TIF district ends. (,

Residents clearly want to be involved and heard as to what the next hybrid or iteration for the City’s neighborhood organization program will look like for 2021 and beyond; helping to develop appropriate guidelines and budgets that have yet to be fully determined. Residents that care about their local community events and programs should stay informed, stay involved and make note of these next important dates.

The program goals/outcomes, racial equity analysis, and amendments to the Framework are to be brought back to the PECE committee on Monday, July 15 at 1:30 p.m.

The proposed program guidelines and logic model are to be reported back to the PECE committee on Monday, October 28 at 1:30 p.m., and will be posted at that time for public comment.

The final draft of the entire Neighborhoods 2020 Program is to go before the PECE Committee on Monday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m. with final approval by the City Council on Friday, November 22 at 9:30 a.m.