Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 30Abstract within the state, are creatively seeking solutions to end e following report provides an account of a recent site homelessness in their jurisdictions. Hennepin County islocation dispute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. e report following the Housing First strategy provide safe homes forprovides examples of strategies that have eased local opposition chronically homeless individuals and families. In Minneapolis,to a proposed multifamily development that includes Housing Housing First units are located in developments that include aFirst units. is paper analyzes the actions of the Plymouth combination of supportive housing, workforce or market rateChurch Neighborhood Foundation (PCNF), a nonprofit units.developer, and the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council Unlike other areas throughout the country, neither(NRRC), the Near North/Willard-Hay neighborhood Hennepin County nor Minneapolis Housing Authorityorganization, during the beginning phases of the Emerson constructs Housing First facilities. e County partners withNorth multifamily development. PCNF has proactively engaged housing service providers, community landlords, business, faiththe community from the beginning, and as a result the and advocacy leaders to provide housing first units fordeveloper has received community support for their project individuals and families .3despite initial pushback from some community members. Under Minnesotas Group Residential Housing (GRH) Statute, the State subsidizes, or oen times fully covers, rentDiscussion payments for chronically homeless individuals. Individuals In 2006 the state of Minnesota, along with over 300 qualify for support due to metal health issues, disabilities,states, cities, and counties throughout the Nation, created a ten- addiction, Native American heritage, or are single women withyear plan to end homelessness.1 Heading Home Hennepin is a children. Many nonprofit and religious organizations thatcomponent of the statewide plan that is specifically focused on provide housing for the homeless and develop Housing FirstHennepin County and Minneapolis, its largest city. Housing facilities receive their tenants monthly rent payments directlyFirst is a cornerstone of the ten-year plan. Prevention, outreach, from the State of Minnesota.service delivery improvement, self-support capacity building, Construction of new housing units is absolutely essentialand systems improvements are additional strategies to address because the state is actively trying to address homelessness andhomelessness emphasized in the plan.2 move homeless individuals and families in to safe, clean, and e ambitious plan puts Hennepin County at the well-kept housing. Despite the demand, aﬀordable/workforceforefront of the movement to end homelessness. e State of housing facilities, homeless shelters, and Housing First facilitiesMinnesota, as well as the counties and local municipalities1Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis Commission to End Homelessness. (2006). Heading Home Hennepin: e Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Minneapolis andHennepin County.2Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis Commission to End Homelessness. (2006). Heading Home Hennepin: e Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Minneapolis andHennepin County.3 Hennepin County. (2012). Hennepin County Fact Sheet, Housing First Partnership.
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 31are invariably magnets for controversy and are oen diﬃcult to tornado. e site is surrounded by residential land uses and issite. located a block from West Broadway Avenue, a major On May 22, 2011 a tornado damaged 500 units of commercial corridor.aﬀordable housing stock in the North Minneapolis e development is located in the Near Northneighborhood. e damaged housing units were predominantly Minneapolis neighborhood, which is racially and ethnicallyolder, ineﬃcient duplex and multiunit houses. e Emerson diverse. Near North Minneapolis has traditionally been aNorth development was proposed in June 2011 as a direct working class neighborhood. Residents have a lower averageresponse to the loss of aﬀordable housing units in the household income than the City of Minneapolis as a whole.neighborhood. Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation e residents of the Old Highland neighborhood directlyowns a parcel of land at 1800-1826 Emerson Avenue North in surrounding the Emerson North development site are morethe neighborhood damaged by the tornado. An old grocery aﬄuent compared to the larger neighborhood and arestore is currently located on the project site and houses an predominantly white. Homeowners in Old Highland haveoperating day center for homeless families. invested significantly in renovating their large Victorian homes. Emerson North was initially proposed as a 48-unit e residents are well organized and many are active in theapartment complex, the number of units has since been reduced Democratic Party.6 Democratic U.S. Congressman Keith Ellisonto 41. Twelve units are reserved for formerly homeless families is a resident of the neighborhood and a supporter of the project.and preference will be given to families aﬀected by the tornado.4 PCNFs Community Engagement StrategyIn Minneapolis, approval for supportive housing requires only a Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation is aconditional use permit. Supportive housing is a use by right in nonprofit faith based housing developer. rough its work,the majority of residential and commercial districts including PCNF has gained the support of many congregations in thethe area where Emerson North is proposed.5 e parcels are Twin Cities area. Because PCNF is well connected withcurrently zoned for moderate density housing and the day churches, the first stages of community outreach began withcenter is therefore a nonconforming use. (A nonconforming use Near North neighborhood congregations. Aer initial outreachis a use that is not allowed by right and requires a zoning was conducted, six churches came together to create a task-forcevariance or a special use permit to operate.) dedicated to moving the Emerson North project forward. e PCNF viewed their property as an ideal location for a participating congregations were multi-racial and multi-faithdevelopment that combined the existing day center, permanent and included a Catholic Church, an African American Mosque,housing units for formerly homeless families using the day an African American Pentecostal Church, a Missionary Baptistcenter, and workforce housing to help those aﬀect by the Church, and a Presbyterian Church. PCNF made an eﬀort to4 PCNF. (2012). Emerson North. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation: http://plymouthfoundation.org/housing/emerson-north5 Smoley, J. (2012, April 13). City Planner, City of Minneapolis. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)6 Israel, I. (2012, April 17). Interim Director, Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 32gain the support of congregations that reflected the diversity of services and Emerson North would further burden thethe neighborhood. Later in the process, local church leaders neighborhood. e addition of over 200 new tenants was alsohelped encourage greater community participation. Church concerning to existing residents of the neighborhood, theyleaders were able to convey to their congregations the viewed the development as too large.9importance of attending community meetings in support of Aer receiving opposition from the nearest residentsEmerson North. and support from the overall neighborhood, the NRRC Board P C N F appro a c h e d t h e Nor t hs i d e R e s i d e nt s decided to neither support nor oppose the development. eRedevelopment Council in August 2011 and asked the group to Board took a neutral stance with the caveat that they wouldsubmit a letter of support for Emerson North to the City of support the project if PCNF would enter into a legally bindingMinneapolis. A letter of support was needed to receive grants Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). As PCNF is committedfrom the City and Low Income Housing Tax Credits allocated to constructing housing to help end homelessness, theby Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. NRRC arranged a developer agreed to negotiate with NRRC in order to gain thecommunity meeting in September 2011 to assess support for the neighborhood organizations support.project. Residents of the Old Highland neighborhood voted 44 According to Allison Johnson, Congregationalto 11 in opposition to the project.7 According to Ishmael Partnership Organizer with PCNF, a subcommittee was formedIsrael, the Interim Director of NRRC, the residents nearest to to negotiate the CBA. e subcommittee held over ten meetingsthe project were the least supportive and the most organized. and dedicated hundreds of hours to the negotiation process.10Residents of the larger neighborhood voted 85 to 20 in support e CBA was negotiated with the help of a third party, theof the development.8 Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. e Alliance for e vocal minority skewed the broader neighborhoods Metropolitan Stability promotes local participation inposition on the project. e opposition group suggested that development and helps communities link development withnew owner-occupied units should be developed instead of localizes benefits.11 e Alliance for Metropolitan Stability hasrental units. Many residents of Old Highland believed that their advised other nonprofit groups, and a facilitator from theneighborhood was home to more than their fair share of social7Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (2011, October 3). September Board Meeting Minutes (unoﬃcial). Retrieved April 13, 2011, from Northside ResidentsRedevelopment Council website: http://nrrc.org/2011/10/04/september-board- meeting-minutes-unoﬃcial/8Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (2011, October 3). September Board Meeting Minutes (unoﬃcial). Retrieved April 13, 2011, from Northside ResidentsRedevelopment Council website: http://nrrc.org/2011/10/04/september-board- meeting-minutes-unoﬃcial/9Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (2011, October 3). September Board Meeting Minutes (unoﬃcial). Retrieved April 13, 2011, from Northside ResidentsRedevelopment Council website: http://nrrc.org/2011/10/04/september-board- meeting-minutes-unoﬃcial/10 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer) Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. (2008, October 10). Community Benefit Agreements. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from Alliance for Metropolitan Stability11website: http://www.metrostability.org/campaigns/article.php?sid=Test
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 33organization guided NRRC and PCNF through the CBA In the end, the board members vote in support of Emersonnegotiation process. North was needed for NRRC to accept the CBA. e developers willingness to negotiate a CBA has been A dra of the Community Benefits Agreement wasthe key factor in garnering neighborhood support for the accepted by the NRRC Board at a meeting that took place onproject. A dra of the Community Benefits Agreement is April 16, 2012. Approximately 100 people attended the meeting,attached in the Appendix. Several items were negotiated during and the majority of attendants supported the development.13the process. e number of units was reduced from 48 to 41 to Minneapolis Ward 6 City Councilman Robert Lilligrenbetter integrate with the neighborhoods exiting character. is an important stakeholder that was absent during theMinority and women owned business requirements for negotiation process. U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison was a vocalconstruction and operation of Emerson North were increased. supporter of Emerson North, but the NRRC felt it needed the e CBA contains more than developer concessions, support of their councilperson as well. Alliance HousingNRRC has a responsibility to maintain engagement with the Incorporated Director Herb Frey stated outright in an interviewdeveloper and identify potential tenants that were displaced by that a councilpersons support can make or break a project.14the tornado. A lasting aﬀect of the CBA is the creation of an Cultivating support in City Council is critical for the success ofAdvisory Group to include representation from NRRC, a both nonprofit housing developers and neighborhoodneighbor at large, a PCNF staﬀ person, the property manager, associations.and a tenant. Maintaining a relationship between all parties iscritical to the projects long-term success and acceptance. e ConclusionAdvisory Group is required to meet at least once a year for PCNFs approach to community engagement is whatthirty years. helped them gain neighborhood support for their project. e process of negotiating the CBA helped change the Engaging with a diverse group of stakeholders was a successfulopinion of some community members and NRRC Board strategy for the developer. e support of local religious leadersmembers. One particular board member was initially very helped increase the number of residents that attended publicvocally opposed to the development. Participating in the meetings in support of the project. Continuing the existingnegotiation process and building trust with the developer relationship with local congregations will also help thethrough communication changed this particular individuals developer maintain contact with the neighborhood aer thestance from opposed to the project to in favor of the project.12 project is completed.12 Israel, I. (2012, April 17). Interim Director, Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)13 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)14 Frey, H. (2012, April 10). Director, Alliance Housing Incorporated. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 34 While some developers prefer to fly under the radar and need full community support to move the project through thesite supportive housing and Housing First units in entitlement process. Nevertheless, the developer was willing toneighborhoods with low property values and concentrated dedicate significant resources to the negotiation process. PCNFpoverty, PCNF makes it a priority to place aﬀordable and did not have to reduce the number of units in the building, butsupportive housing units in all neighborhoods.15 is strategy, they did so to appease the public. Meaningful engagementwhich mirrors the City of Minneapolis overall strategy, requires between the developer and the neighborhood organizationPCNF to have a clearly articulated response to objections created a beneficial result for both parties. is will not be aregarding increased concentration of poverty. Congressman one-oﬀ success for the community; rather the neighborhoodEllison addressed this concern at a public meeting held about organization is now more empowered to participate in theEmerson North. By supporting housing for the homeless and development process. NRRC is in the process of creatingproviding safe places for homeless families to live, the statewide Community Benefits Agreement Council to aid othercommunity is helping to break the cycle of poverty and nonprofit neighborhood associations in Minnesota. By creatingultimately de-concentrating poverty. When the homeless have a a framework for Community Benefits Agreements, NRRCplace to live, they are taken oﬀ the street and have the hopes to empower other community groups and help themopportunity to li themselves out of poverty. When people are understand that they can play a meaningful role in developmentsafely housed, they are no longer homeless; therefore they do that occurs in their neighborhoods.not increase the concentration of homelessness. is concept should be communicated eﬀectively to thecommunity at the beginning of any siting process, and theimportance of messaging should not be understated. Individualsare not destined to always be poor or homeless, individuals areexperiencing homelessness and poverty. PCNF admitted thismessage was overlooked and undervalued even though theybelieve they tried to explain it to neighborhood residents.16 emore time that passed, the harder the message was to convey.PCNF had to make a concerted eﬀort to explain this mission tothe community. A final factor that contributed to neighborhoodacceptance of Emerson North was the willingness of thedeveloper to negotiate with the community. PCNF likely did not15 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)16 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)