The Big Picture Project Announces Affordable Housing Recommendations for the Central Corridor

By Gretchen Nicholls, Twin Cities LISC and Kelly Koster, Community Journalist
March 7, 2012

In the past few months, the community, government, finance and development sectors came together to develop a comprehensive affordable housing plan for the Central Corridor. Now that their recommendations are on paper, we asked project team members to reflect on what they’d learned and their hopes for the future. Here are some highlights from their responses. 

BIG COLLABORATIONS CAN WORK; THERE IS COMMON GROUND
 
“One thing that was a bit of a surprise was a number of us had been thinking about these issues for a long time. I think we thought we had thought of everything. Then there were people who came in with different perspectives and added additional angles. It made the report complete.” Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)
 
“It was valuable for me to get a better understanding of different stakeholders’ opinions and where there was common ground, because the process included residents and neighborhood voices, city government voices, potential developers, and even a few outside advocates’ voices.”   Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council
 
“I saw that there were more common desires for creating a healthy neighborhood. There’s not a whole lot of difference between what low, moderate, and high income people want.  It’s very clear that there are more common things than not.”
Eric Muschler, The McKnight Foundation (CCFC)
 
“It will be key for a wide variety of groups to support the plan, both community organizations and neighborhood groups and government bodies. Without that things are likely to languish.  I’m hoping people will get on board with this. We need to start moving ahead.” 
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)
 
THE NEED FOR CONTINUING COORDINATION
 
“I think the coordination is an ongoing challenge.  My fear/expectation is that it might dissolve.  Having somebody vested in it and willing to stay engaged and keep it going really helped.  Maybe the Funders Collaborative should keep it going….I hope we can have a unified voice if it’s needed to get funding. I think there’s potential to do that, maybe even keep working on identifying opportunity sites.  My fear is that it will get more challenging.  This was funded with a grant. It’s easy to get divided.”
 Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council 
 
“Moving forward, I don’t know that the collaborative spirit will naturally come out. I think we’ve got a good set of recommendations. The real test will be whether the government actors will be committed to moving forward on some of the strategies that need to be figured out.” 
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)
 
“The key challenges will involve coming to any one consensus about how much affordable housing is needed along the corridor.  Also, it’s always a challenge to make decisions about the allocation of scarce resources to provide affordable housing and redevelopment.” 
Diane Nordquist, Saint Paul PED
 
FUNDING CONCERNS
 
“No idea can move forward, especially in development, without funds. The biggest challenge will be getting the mix of funds to bring the Big Picture to some fruition. It’s about putting the whole corridor in line with each development. All of these costs—developers are hard pressed for funds, especially for non profits who aren’t motivated by the bottom line.  We’re motivated by people.”
Brenda Bailey, Model Cities
 
“The biggest challenge will be moving to implement the recommendations given the scarce resources and scarce city staff.  Foundations and the private sector will need to play a key role.” 
Luis Pereira, Saint Paul PED
 
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
 
“The biggest challenge will be keeping those most affected informed and involved in the preservation and addition of affordable housing…. The biggest opportunity is to present findings to the communities along the corridor and ask for their reactions. Then add those reactions as an addendum to the report. I also believe there’s an opportunity for all involved to work together and have this project be a model for affordable housing along transit corridors in the rest of the Twin Cities and around the country.”
Bill Lerman, Jewish Community Action (Community Agreements Compact Committee)
 
PRIORITIES/CATALYTIC PROJECTS
 
“It’s worth trying to identify opportunity sites and guide development in the right direction. I’ve got some areas I represent where there’s great development pressure. There’s the Prospect Park station on the edge of Minneapolis and the West Bank area. There’s lots of underutilized land. If we’re not careful, we could see things slip.” 
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council
   
PUBLIC POLICY CHANGE
 “Two opportunities that our office is interested in working on are the two cities’ density bonus policies, which are a way to get more affordable units beyond the limited government resources by using incentives for developers. There are also a few legislative proposals that need work—one is TIF for TOD. The other is property tax breaks for landlords who agree to affordability restrictions against rising rents.”
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)

For more information on the Big Picture Project, including objectives, participants, and contact information, please visit their partner page.
 

The Big Picture Project Announces Affordable Housing Recommendations for the Central Corridor

March 7, 2012

by Gretchen Nicholls, Twin Cities LISC and Kelly Koster, Community Journalist                        

In the past few months, the community, government, finance and development sectors came together to develop a comprehensive affordable housing plan for the Central Corridor. Now that their recommendations are on paper, we asked project team members to reflect on what they’d learned and their hopes for the future. Here are some highlights from their responses. 

BIG COLLABORATIONS CAN WORK; THERE IS COMMON GROUND

“One thing that was a bit of a surprise was a number of us had been thinking about these issues for a long time. I think we thought we had thought of everything. Then there were people who came in with different perspectives and added additional angles. It made the report complete.” 
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)

“It was valuable for me to get a better understanding of different stakeholders’ opinions and where there was common ground, because the process included residents and neighborhood voices, city government voices, potential developers, and even a few outside advocates’ voices.”   
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council

“I saw that there were more common desires for creating a healthy neighborhood. There’s not a whole lot of difference between what low, moderate, and high income people want.  It’s very clear that there are more common things than not.”  
Eric Muschler, The McKnight Foundation (CCFC)

“It will be key for a wide variety of groups to support the plan, both community organizations and neighborhood groups and government bodies. Without that things are likely to languish. I’m hoping people will get on board with this. We need to start moving ahead.” 
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)

 THE NEED FOR CONTINUING COORDINATION

“I think the coordination is an ongoing challenge. My fear/expectation is that it might dissolve. Having somebody vested in it and willing to stay engaged and keep it going really helped. Maybe the Funders Collaborative should keep it going….I hope we can have a unified voice if it’s needed to get funding. I think there’s potential to do that, maybe even keep working on identifying opportunity sites. My fear is that it will get more challenging. This was funded with a grant. It’s easy to get divided.”  
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council

“Moving forward, I don’t know that the collaborative spirit will naturally come out. I think we’ve got a good set of recommendations. The real test will be whether the government actors will be committed to moving forward on some of the strategies that need to be figured out.”  
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership)

“The key challenges will involve coming to any one consensus about how much affordable housing is needed along the corridor. Also, it’s always a challenge to make decisions about the allocation of scarce resources to provide affordable housing and redevelopment.” 
Diane Nordquist, Saint Paul PED

FUNDING CONCERNS

“No idea can move forward, especially in development, without funds. The biggest challenge will be getting the mix of funds to bring the Big Picture to some fruition. It’s about putting the whole corridor in line with each development. All of these costs—developers are hard pressed for funds, especially for non profits who aren’t motivated by the bottom line. We’re motivated by people.”  
Brenda Bailey, Model Cities

“The biggest challenge will be moving to implement the recommendations given the scarce resources and scarce city staff. Foundations and the private sector will need to play a key role.”   
Luis Pereira, Saint Paul PED

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

“The biggest challenge will be keeping those most affected informed and involved in the preservation and addition of affordable housing…The biggest opportunity is to present findings to the communities along the corridor and ask for their reactions. Then add those reactions as an addendum to the report. I also believe there’s an opportunity for all involved to work together and have this project be a model for affordable housing along transit corridors in the rest of the Twin Cities and around the country.”  
Bill Lerman, Jewish Community Action (Community Agreements Compact Committee)

PRIORITIES/CATALYTIC PROJECTS

“It’s worth trying to identify opportunity sites and guide development in the right direction. I’ve got some areas I represent where there’s great development pressure. There’s the Prospect Park station on the edge of Minneapolis and the West Bank area. There’s lots of underutilized land. If we’re not careful, we could see things slip.”  
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council

PUBLIC POLICY CHANGE

 “Two opportunities that our office is interested in working on are the two cities’ density bonus policies, which are a way to get more affordable units beyond the limited government resources by using incentives for developers. There are also a few legislative proposals that need work—one is TIF for TOD. The other is property tax breaks for landlords who agree to affordability restrictions against rising rents.”  
Tim Thompson, Housing Preservation Project (Central Corridor Affordable Housing Partnership) 

For more information on the Big Picture Project, including objectives, participants, and contact information, please visit their partner page.