Feature written in July, 2019
FHLB Des Moines Member: Sunrise Banks
With 21,157 residents, Phillips Community of Minneapolis, Minnesota is among the most diverse communities in the state. Eighty percent of neighborhood residents are people of color, 32% are children and 46% of those children live in poverty.
Hope Community began in 1977 as a shelter for homeless women and children in the Phillips Community and saw many shelter guests secure permanent housing in that era only to return a few months later, due to increased rent, health issues or job loss. This struggle was largely influenced by disinvestment, illegal drugs and violence devasting the community in the 1980s. In the mid-1990s, Hope transitioned from providing emergency shelter to a focus on community development and systems change.
The next 21 years led to the creation of high-quality affordable housing on four corners of what once comprised an abandoned intersection a mile south of downtown Minneapolis. In 2003, Hope Community opened the first phase of the four-corner redevelopment effort known as Children’s Village Center or Phase I of the Franklin-Portland Gateway redevelopment (FPGI).
This phase of the project includes 36 units of deeply affordable housing for households earning 30% and 50% of the area median income. Phase I of FPGI was the first new construction affordable housing development. All phases are now complete with the help of affordable housing developer Aeon.
The entire development – all four phases – includes 263 units of permanent rental housing, four home ownership units through partnership with the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, community learning/gathering spaces and 25,000 square feet of commercial space, including a neighborhood market, day care and Hope’s headquarters and community center.
Outdoor community space includes a community gardens, a picnic pavilion, mini-playgrounds and green space.
The vision for the redevelopment came from community listening where issues of housing, affordability and health remained huge concerns for years. Children’s Village Vision served as a catalyst for community involvement on the remaining three corners.
Hope also acknowledges that housing isn’t everything that creates a community. Through Hope, individuals grow through youth programming – literacy, mentorship, career planning, STEM education – advocacy and organizing training, community gardens and community mural programs.
In addition, community partners can utilize Children’s Village Center to provide services. For instance, Prepare + Prosper hosts free tax-preparation clinics, resulting in 674 returns prepared in 2018 for a total of over $1.3 million in returns for participating households. Another example is Neighborhood Development Center’s 12-week Neighborhood Entrepreneur Training Program whether 16 aspiring entrepreneurs developed viable business plans, support networks and road maps for success in 2018.
The redevelopment brought new energy and possibility to the area with residents as primary partners in building a diverse, mixed-income community without major displacement.
“I’m still here because of Hope,” Taya Schulte, former community intern and Phillips resident and urban farmer. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed in this community.”
Hope creates spaces where racially diverse, low and moderate-income community members can gather to learn about, build and share power to enact change in their community. Many individuals have been dismissed and overlooked, and their lives are shaped by poverty, structural racism and historical trauma. Hope invites people to share their experiences and expertise in order to analyze structural racial injustices and intersectionality in efforts to shape public decisions and policies that align with community interests and priorities.