METRO Blue Line Extension Seeking Members For Anti-Displacement Workgroup
By Trevor Ray
The METRO Blue Line Extension project is seeking applications from community members for a new Anti-Displacement Workgroup. Members will help guide anti-displacement strategies and policy development by providing personal insight, local expertise and direct connections to communities impacted by the project.
The group will be comprised of community leaders, residents, and business owners potentially at risk of displacement, as well as other experts and staff from key nonprofit, philanthropic and agency partners, including Hennepin County, Metropolitan Council and corridor cities.
The Workgroup will be convened and led by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), under the principal leadership of C Terrence Anderson, CURA’s director of community-based research.
“We have the chance to help make sure current residents along the planned Blue Line Extension are not displaced as a result of this important investment in their community,” Anderson said. “CURA has a long history of community-based research and community organizing to reimagine public policy to deconstruct a history of inequity and help marginalized communities realize and own a vision of healing and prosperity. We also bring a breadth of recent experience studying the causes and effects of displacement in the Twin Cities. I believe meaningful participation from the community is key to the long-term success of this workgroup. I encourage anyone interested to apply and look forward to beginning this important work.”
CURA, in partnership with Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council, will work with community and partner stakeholders to evaluate the potential for current and future displacement related to planning, construction and operation of the Blue Line light rail in North Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. The Workgroup will develop and recommend actionable policy recommendations and strategies to ensure the Blue Line Extension Project minimizes displacement in the communities it is intended to benefit, while maximizing opportunities for communities to build wealth in place and realize new potential for inclusive prosperity and vitality.
Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and chair of the Regional Railroad Authority, stated, “The Anti-Displacement Workgroup is an opportunity to be at the forefront of community investment in this corridor. We’ve seen the potential for light rail projects to drive investment in communities and the Blue Line Extension will serve communities that continue to experience stark disparities stemming from historic disinvestment and institutional racism. This group is an opportunity for community members to co-design policy and have their experiences inform programming that will ensure current corridor residents experience the lasting benefits of light rail.”
Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle stated, “The Metropolitan Council is committed to seeking community-designed solutions to potential displacement from the METRO Blue Line Extension. The Anti-Displacement Workgroup is a first for our region and stands to set a new standard nationally for how communities and agencies can work together early and throughout major infrastructure projects. Our goal is to ensure the very people these projects intend to benefit are not unduly impacted by these large, transformative projects. I am looking forward to the recommendations from the Workgroup and recognize as policymakers it is our responsibility that we are honoring our community members through this work and building their vision for the future.”
The Anti-Displacement Workgroup will include 21 initial members, with representation from community members, government staff, as well as staff from foundations and philanthropic organizations serving the project area. The group’s composition will be designed for broad representation of interests around the project, with a collection of members that can speak to the tensions around the project and advise on the best ways to engage diverse constituencies, as well as implementers that can assist the group in making achievable recommendations.
Jeff Lunde, Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner, stressed the importance of anti-displacement work across the proposed route. “Anti-displacement efforts will be vital for the success of this project along the entire line. If done right, it will connect Districts 1 and 2 residents to the rest of the Twin Cities region, facilitate community-led redevelopment, and be an opportunity to address historic disinvestment rooted in racism. However, light rail projects also bring risks that can only be mitigated via coordinated policy recommendations for Districts 1 and 2. I am proud to have pushed for this initiative in partnership with Commissioner Fernando. While our districts experience different challenges and have different development landscapes, we share the goal of having this project benefit current residents.”
Metropolitan Council Member Reva Chamblis added “The long-term success of these important transit projects relies on strong community support. Throughout the METRO Blue Line Extension Project planning, I heard the concerns from the community about how the project may adversely impact neighborhoods and the fear of being displaced from their homes and businesses. I applaud the projects willingness to hear and address these concerns. I am confident the Anti-displacement Workgroup will provide real, actionable solutions to minimize displacement, and sufficiently address community concerns for this once in a generation investment into our community.”
Members of the Workgroup are asked to commit to twelve to eighteen months, depending on the needs of the work. Ideal candidates will bring personal experience in the community as residents and businesses that could be potentially impacted by displacement or as experts or advocates of affordable housing, community wealth building, and economic development.
Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of project advisory committee members (who represent the communities and businesses) and the CURA team. The application form is available at mybluelineext.org/anti-displacement or by contacting CURA at 612-625-1551.
Applications will be accepted until Friday, January 14, 2022.