The Blue Line Extension Anti-Displacement Work Group is kicking off a process that will result in actionable recommendations to prevent displacement and maximize community benefits along the planned light rail line that will connect the communities of North Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park to the regional transit network.
The work group is led by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) in partnership with Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council. The work group's 26 recently selected members include residents and business owners in the area, people with lived experience of displacement, and people from the philanthropic community and government agencies.
The first meeting of an anticipated year-long process will be today, March 10, from 4 to 7 p.m. The work group will discuss the Blue Line Extension project schedule and affirm a research agenda formulated by the CURA research team.
CURA began seeking input on the development of the workgroup starting last fall. The application period opened in December and was promoted widely to corridor communities. More than 60 applicants were interviewed before final selections were made in February by a committee that included CURA and project staff, as well as corridor community and business representatives.
“We were overwhelmed by the level of interest and quality of applications,” said C Terrence Anderson, CURA’s Director of Community Based Research and project manager for the Anti-Displacement Work Group. “I’m confident we’ve put together an exceptional group that represents corridor communities and who have the expertise, passion, and commitment to accomplish something powerful. We are looking forward to this first meeting where the group will meet each other and set a foundation for the work that is to follow in the big year ahead of us.”
In addition to monthly public meetings, the work group will host four day-long workshops between May 2022 and February 2023. Each workshop will focus on a single topic or activity:
- Lessons from the existing Blue and Green Line projects
- Housing and cultural displacement
- Business displacement
- Finalizing recommendations
CURA will lead these workshops and provide qualitative and quantitative research, and the work group will develop final recommendations. Input and support from community, government, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations will inform both the workshops and final recommendations. All meetings and other resources related to this effort will be available at MyBlueLineExt.org/anti-displacement.
Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and Chair of the Regional Railroad Authority
“This is an exciting milestone for the Blue Line Extension Project, but also for our region and state. We’re setting a new standard for how government and community can work together to ensure major infrastructure investments truly benefit the communities they are intended to serve. This group represents our diverse corridor communities with the broad range of experience and expertise needed to make this work successful. Together, we will ensure this transformational investment benefits existing corridor residents and reduces racial disparities.”
Reva Chamblis, Metropolitan Council District 2 Member
“We have put a lot of thought into this issue and are ready for this group to get started. We’ve seen how light rail projects drive investment in communities, and the Blue Line Extension should serve all communities, especially those with high numbers of working families who rely on transit to meet basic needs like getting to jobs, school, or the grocery store. This group is an opportunity for community members to co-design policy recommendations and have their lived and historical experiences inform programming and investments that will ensure current corridor residents experience the lasting benefits of light rail. A priority outcome of anti-displacement efforts in light rail corridor projects should solve for equity in economic competitiveness, preserve and grow community assets, and promote prosperity for all neighborhoods along the corridor."
Jeff Lunde, Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner
“I was so pleased to see all cities along the corridor represented in this group. Having anti-displacement strategies developed by individuals that can speak to the wants and needs of the diverse communities who work and live along this corridor is the best way to ensure positive outcomes. We are committed to the work group’s success and look forward to advancing the recommendations that are developed through this truly unique process.”
Robert Lilligren, Metropolitan Council District 7 Member
“This is a great first step in addressing historical inequality in our neighborhoods. Too often the voices of community members who are directly impacted by these sorts of projects are drowned out by other interests. We have an opportunity with the Blue Line Extension and this Anti-Displacement Work Group to come up with direct and actionable steps that can minimize the harm and address the concerns of the community, while ensuring this once-in-a-generation investment benefits all of the cities and people along the corridor.”