HUD grants U community

Michelle Moriarity

Thanks to some heartily welcomed federal funding, the University will lead an effort to revitalize an economically depressed St. Paul neighborhood.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday night that the University will receive almost $400,000 in federal aid to help redevelop St. Paul’s East Side neighborhood.
The project, a collaborative effort of the University, Macalester College, Metropolitan State University and several neighborhood organizations, will introduce new housing and job readiness programs to St. Paul’s East Side neighborhood, a residential and industrial area northeast of the state Capitol building.
Because of a loss of thousands of industrial jobs during the 1980s, the neighborhood experienced dropping home values and increasing poverty.
“It’s a microcosm of what’s happening all over the country,” said former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer.
Latimer initiated the campaign for federal funds about two years ago. With the help of more than $600,000 in volunteer services and community support, program coordinators will help create 2,000 new industrial jobs, provide financial assistance to East Side homeowners and initiate neighborhood business training programs.
Graduate and undergraduate students from the University, Metropolitan State University and Macalester College will conduct community research and work hands-on with members of the neighborhood.
Fred Smith, coordinator for the University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, said the program is unique in that students will work in a concentrated area with a diverse group of people.
“We will have organizations representing communities of color working on this,” Smith said. “I think this is going to provide for some really exciting opportunities.”
For Ed Goetz, interim director of the Humphrey Institute’s planning program, the benefits will take on a different dimension.
With the help of the federal aid, Goetz is initiating a research program to analyze the redevelopment’s effects on the east side community.
“This will hopefully allow them to fashion a program responsive to (the residents’) needs,” Goetz said.
The research will also aid coordinators’ efforts to bring middle-income families back into the city and combat urban sprawl, Goetz said.
For Latimer, the program’s benefits will extend even further by bringing local colleges together in their community aid efforts.
Although colleges nationwide participate in neighborhood redevelopment projects, Latimer said, few join other institutions to combine time and resources necessary to combat urban poverty.
“It isn’t just a response to one issue,” Latimer said. “It is an ongoing relationship.”