Firm finds program stabilizes housing

Todd Milbourn

One decade and $170 million since Minneapolis leaders first envisioned a program to redesign public services and foster a sense of community in city neighborhoods, the Neighborhood Revitalization Program has had a “meaningful” impact on housing stability, according to a private consulting firm report.
TEAMWORKS, a San Francisco-based consulting firm hired by the NRP Policy Board, announced the findings of their $270,000 audit to the community Tuesday at the Minneapolis public library downtown.
“The program has had a statistically discernible impact on building permits for housing improvements and housing ownership,” said Renee Berger, president of TEAMWORKS. “NRP has also had an impact on stabilization.”
Since 1992, home ownership in Minneapolis has increased by about 3 percent. According to the report, about a quarter of that can be traced to the NRP.
The NRP, initiated in 1991, is a 20-year, $400 million community action plan devised to address housing, safety, economic development, social service and environmental issues at the neighborhood level. The program is funded by downtown development taxes distributed among 65 participating Minneapolis neighborhoods.
NRP neighborhoods, led by an elected steering committee, decide themselves how to spend the allocated funds.
“It’s been an incentive for us to become better organized and also to look at what project ideas we’d like to implement in the neighborhood,” said Peggy Sand, Southeast Como Improvement Association member. The Como neighborhood has been an NRP member since 1995.
Sand said the program has played a pivotal role in improving park facilities, putting in alley speed bumps and planting trees in the neighborhood. She also credited NRP for helping create a community resource center.
Despite NRP’s role in stabilizing home ownership, the program fell short of its goal to earmark 52.5 percent of NRP funds toward housing issues. Housing, however, was the program’s primary recipient, receiving 46 percent of NRP dollars. Economic development received 12 percent, parks and recreation 10 percent, and human services received 8 percent of the funding, throughout the past 10 years.
Neighborhood meetings will take place around Minneapolis during the next three weeks to discuss the report and devise spending strategies for the second decade of the program, Phase II.
The final report is expected to be published on the NRP’s Web site, http://www.nrp.org, by the end of the week.

Todd Milbourn covers community and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.