COMMITMENT TO STAY
In the mid-1990s, the Phillips Community, located a mile south of downtown Minneapolis, was facing overwhelming challenges and devastation. There were few strategies for change except wholesale gentrification.
Hope Community had been established there as a shelter and hospitality house 20 years before. We stayed, made a commitment to the people in the community, and took on a larger vision.
Community members knew that they lived in what might be called an opportunity neighborhood. Hope held listening sessions to discern our direction. Residents talked about neighborhood assets: proximity to downtown and good transportation, now including a light rail station. They talked about how they wanted to stay in a diverse neighborhood where they had connections. AND they wanted change. But, one woman, echoed by many others, said, “If it gets better (in the neighborhood), it’s not going to be for us. We will be gone, because we won’t be able to afford it.” Another resident added, “You’ll see a lot fewer people of color here.”
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY SPACES CHANGING THE FACE OF A NEIGHBORHOOD
The neighborhood was filled with vacant land and deteriorating housing. Hope acquired land no one else wanted and began rehabbing the block where the shelter had been, house by house. Now there are 253 rental apartments (70% affordable), Hope’s offices and community center, small businesses, large community gardens, and outdoor community spaces.
PEOPLE BUILD POWER FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
Our work with the community creates an alternative to gentrification. In a neighborhood too often dismissed by stereotypes and racism, people who live in the neighborhood and others like them shape the future.
Now Hope staff and community leaders create spaces where racially diverse, low- and moderate-income community members can come together to learn about, build, and share power. Over the last 20 years, about 4,000 people have joined Hope’s Community Listening dialogues. More than 1,000 people are involved each year in building a better life for themselves and their communities. We create an intentional environment with multiple opportunities: leadership opportunities for youth and adults, system change focused on racial and economic equity, learning gardens and community circles, literacy, and wealth creation. A growing network of community leaders, most people of color, work on dozens of community-based partnerships and projects. As our networks grow, the impact builds in our neighborhood, across the city and beyond.