Rybak pledges better housing

Minneapolis has received $40 million to expand northside home ownership.

Hank Long

In his third annual State of the City Address on Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said big changes are on the way for home ownership and increased job opportunities for working families.

“It’s time to do something dramatic to attack the home ownership problem,” Rybak said to a packed audience of community members in the City Hall Rotunda.

Rybak said the city will turn its focus to improving the northside community and has secured $40 million for the northside home fund.

The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and Franklin National Bank each donated $20 million for the project.

City Council member Paul Zerby, 2nd Ward, who represents areas surrounding the Minneapolis campus, said the announcement is terrific news for the city and the northside community.

“If you can get $40 million infused into the housing in that area, that is a blockbuster,” Zerby said.

“That will solve a lot of problems in cleaning up the housing stock and working at getting communities of color started on the housing ladder,” he said.

Rybak also said families in the northside community will be receiving help from the University.

Rybak said the University’s Center for Early Education and Development will move a portion of the center to the northside where it will work to improve the lives of the community.

“This initiative will bring some of the best minds to the northside,” Rybak said.

University Senior Vice President Robert Jones, who is from the northside, said he is pleased to see University involvement in the area.

“(The move) will translate all the research the center is doing into the community,” Jones said.

Rybak praised Jones and other Minneapolis-area university leaders in helping with the city’s “close the gap” initiative, which aims to bring the city’s unemployment rate down to the overall unemployment rate for the metropolitan area.

On environmental issues, Rybak said the city has made amazing progress to cut down pollution in the last year when it helped to eliminate the single largest source of air pollution in the city, the Riverside Coal Plant.

The Riverside Coal Plant will be converted to gas by 2005, Rybak said.

Rybak also praised the city’s spring tree planting program that will plant 5,000 new trees throughout the city in 2004.