Convening MN’s first anti-displacement working group for the Blue Line extension

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Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council are excited to announce a critical next step in the METRO Blue Line Extension Light Rail (BLRT) project—a first of its kind anti-displacement initiative that will center community voices in developing actionable strategies and policies to maximize benefits of this transformative investment to current corridor residents and communities.

Hennepin County (l-r) Hennepin County Commissioners Jeff Lunde (District 1) and Irene Fernando (District 2)

The Blue Line Extension is a 13-mile light rail project that will further our region’s transit vision and affordably connect students to education, workers to jobs, patients to health care, and families to resources.

It will bring transformational investment to the corridor, connecting residents living in the northwest cities and North Minneapolis with opportunities within their communities and throughout the greater Twin Cities metro area.

As Hennepin County Commissioners, we are excited for the benefits light rail will bring to our communities. The Blue Line Extension is positioned to serve some of the most racially and economically diverse communities in Minnesota, while also connecting transit-reliant residents to the broader regional transit system.

Our teams work deliberately every day to ensure the Blue Line Extension benefits corridor residents and minimizes physical, economic, and cultural displacement.

To strengthen these efforts, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) on September 21 to lead a trailblazing anti-displacement working group for the Blue Line Extension project.

Hennepin County C. Terrence Anderson, director of Community-Based Research, CURA

Under the principal leadership of C Terrence Anderson, CURA’s director of community-based research and North Minneapolis resident, CURA will center community voices and incorporate diverse perspectives to develop robust strategies and policies to prevent displacement, guide investment, and economic development, and maximize light rail’s benefits to current corridor residents, businesses, and communities.

They will engage more than 5,000 individual corridor residents and stakeholders to inform this work.

The anti-displacement workgroup will be composed of community leaders, business owners, residents, and experts. After a century of disinvestment, racial covenants, and redlining, we have a duty to ensure current residents, small businesses, cultural institutions, and assets are able to benefit from the increased development and investment in their neighborhoods.

This working group will endeavor to prevent the risk of unintended harm that can occur in the wake of large-scale infrastructure projects, with specific goals to reduce racial disparities, help communities build wealth in place, and to create more equitable economic strategies and outcomes.

CURA and Anderson are well-known and trusted in the community. Their approach to community research has helped them develop strong relationships which will support development of thoughtful policy recommendations to minimize the harm displacement can cause.

We are confident that through this partnership, we can encourage the kind of development and investment that helps build community wealth and minimizes displacement.

CURA will draw from years of study on gentrification and displacement to generate a research report that will outline the needs found in the community, actionable policy steps, and potential funding strategies and resources.

In addition to their team of organizers and researchers, CURA is partnering with Margaret Kaplan of the Housing Justice Center and Allison Bell of Bellwether Consulting.

This team will rely on extensive partnerships with community, as well as housing and business organizations to develop robust anti-displacement strategies and an implementation plan over the next 18 months.

Implementation of these strategies will require coordination with a wide array of community, public and private sector partners. Putting these strategies into action will happen over the near and long term.

The communities in this corridor have suffered disproportionately over the past year—due to the pandemic and the resulting job and housing disruptions. But the challenges of the last year, have only exacerbated historic patterns of disinvestment and harm that reaches back decades.

With CURA’s leadership and community voices at the center of this work, we are committed to ending a century of disinvestment and begin to repair the harm experienced by communities across North Minneapolis and the northwest cities.

For more information and to get connected to this work as it progresses, please visit mybluelineext.org.