At Home on the Green Line

by: Andy Barnett, Frogtown Rondo Home Fund Coordinator, City of Saint Paul
July 10, 2013
 
The connection between housing and the development of the Green Line has been obvious to planners and residents alike.  At the most elemental level, housing fixes households in place. The social ties between those households create community while the transportation options available to people in a place determine how fully they can participate in opportunities beyond their community.  The type of housing that is preserved and created along the Green Line will determine who is a member of the community and who will benefit from greater access to regional opportunities.
 
Along the Green Line, the nexus of housing, community identity, and access is most dynamic in the area that the Central Corridor Affordable Housing Coordinated Plan (CCAHCP) identifies as the Midway East subarea–comprised of most of St. Paul’s Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods.  This area is one of the most diverse communities in the region.  It is also one of the least affluent.  Rondo bears the legacy of mass displacement from previous infrastructure development and Frogtown knows the cyclical remaking of community typical of urban immigrant destinations. The neighborhoods’ human capital gives them a competitive advantage for economic development while their unique cultural legacies make these neighborhoods unique destinations.
 
So, how can housing investments in these neighborhoods occur in such a way that the community is strengthened and the quality of life for all residents is enriched?
 
This is the essential question facing the Frogtown Rondo Home Fund.  The Home Fund is a newly-formed collaboration of over thirty resident organizations, CDCs, intermediaries, local government, community institutions, foundations, and other leaders to coordinate and significantly improve housing conditions in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods, with a special focus on preserving and producing affordable housing.  The CCAHCP identifies this type of collaboration as a needed tool to focus investment and coordinate comprehensive housing improvement efforts.
 
The Frogtown Rondo Home Fund pursues its mission through three core strategies.  First, it helps guide investment in block-scale redevelopment clusters to achieve high quality, stable housing and a fine-grained pattern of housing types.  It also works to improve Frogtown and Rondo residents’ knowledge of and access to housing solutions, and to support community campaigns to address systems that result in poor housing conditions, unequal access to housing in the neighborhood, or other quality of life issues.
 
The response to the Home Fund from community organizations has been overwhelming.  According to Frogtown Neighborhood Association Director Caty Royce, ”We see the Frogtown Rondo Home Fund as an extension of some of the most important work we have accomplished.  Focusing our housing and community development work in certain, community-generated sectors of our neighborhood allows greater impact and deeper relationships with community members.  The Home Fund proves that effective strategy and the impact can only grow when community members and organizations work better together.”   The Home Fund anticipates that, through enhanced coordination, greater visibility, and new resources, the significant individual impacts of its members can be amplified for the benefit of these dynamic Green Line neighborhoods.
 
For more information, please contact Andy Barnett at andy.barnett@ci.stpaul.mn.us