Friday, May 7, 2010

Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program

In 1987, the Minneapolis Mayor and City Council created a task force that they assigned the responsibility of determining how best to approach the “physical revitalization of Minneapolis neighborhoods,” as decline of the city’s neighborhoods had become widespread and apparent through the mid to late 1980’s. In 1988, the task force reported that complete revitalization “would cost over $3 billion,” and the best way to move forward was through the implementation of a “citywide planning effort.” (City of Minneapolis, Overview of NRP Funding, 2006)

According to a City of Minneapolis news release, “The NRP was established through state legislation in 1990 and is governed by a joint-powers agreement between five government jurisdictions: the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Minneapolis Public Schools, and (originally) Minneapolis Public Library.” (City of Minneapolis, Overview of NRP Funding, 2006) Additionally, this program was designed for implementation with assistance and intense participation of neighborhood associations and residents.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) was born in 1989 when an implementation committee, created based on the recommendations of the task force, proposed a program with three distinct objectives for revitalizing Minneapolis’ neighborhoods:
• Protect Fundamentally Sound Neighborhoods
• Revitalize Neighborhoods Showing Signs of Decline
• Redirect Neighborhoods with Extensive Problems

The NRP was created for implementation over the course of 20 years, from 1990 to 2009. Phase I would be in effect from 1990 to 1999. The program would then transition and begin Phase II in 2000 and continue until 2009. The NRP funding came directly from the City of Minneapolis’ tax increment financing (TIF) proceeds. In 1990, legislation was passed that allowed the City to use up to $20 million of TIF revenues to fund and support the NRP.

Minneapolis’ expenditure for NRP exceeds that of any other similar programs in the United States. The City of Minneapolis has approval to spend up to $20 million per year of their TIF proceeds. This kind of investment has resulted in the Minneapolis NRP being a shining beacon of best practices by way of neighborhood revitalization strategies. Many articles have been written assessing such programs, and the Minneapolis NRP is cited as case study for many of these analyses (Abt Associates, 2004).

“Funding for each neighborhood is based on an allocation formula that results in more distressed neighborhoods receiving more funding. The formula is based on the following five factors: 1) Neighborhood population; 2) Number of dwelling units; 3) Number of units administered by absentee landlords; 4) Number of substandard units; and 5) Index of low-economic status based on average income, economic assistance cases, and health statistics.” (Abt Associates, 2004)

Many individual supporters of NRP, as well as official neighborhood associations, would have liked to see NRP continue in a similar manner by which it had existed over the past 20 years. However, the TIF legislation ended in 2009, leaving the program without the revenue source it had relied upon for 20 years. The City Council of Minneapolis stated support for continuing the NRP as it had existed, but without legislation to renew the TIF districts that so efficiently helped finance the lion’s share of the program, there has been no choice but to redesign. The program is still in transition, and only time will tell what it ultimately becomes after its successful 20-year incumbency as one of the nation’s most successful neighborhood revitalization programs. As of May 3rd, the program had received $3 million more in funding, and there is now a plan in place to transition the NRP into the Neighborhood Community Relations (NCR) department within the City.

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