Choice, Place and Opportunity

An equity assessment of the Twin Cities region

Cover of Choice, Place and Opportunity report.A region that shares both opportunities and challenges and seeks to improve the lives of its entire population is stronger and more vibrant. With this report, the Metropolitan Council hopes to raise awareness of the complex interdependencies of income, race, place and opportunity and to challenge both itself and others to think regionally and act equitably for a better region for all.

What we learned

  • The Twin Cities region has become far more racially diverse since 1990. The number of residents of color has more than tripled, pulling up their share of the region’s population from 9% in 1990 to 24% in 2010. By 2040, people of color will be 40% of the region’s population.

  • The Twin Cities region has some of the nation’s biggest disparities along racial and ethnic lines among our peer metro areas. These disparities include income, poverty, unemployment, homeownership and education.

  • Income and race can limit where people live. Since residents of color living in the Twin Cities region tend to have lower incomes than whites, income is more of a constraint for people of color when it comes to housing choice. Above and beyond income, however, race still influences where residents of color live in the region.
  •  Looking at the Twin Cities region as a whole, opportunities such as jobs, high-performing schools and safe neighborhoods are unevenly distributed. Because of residential patterns, white residents and people of color live in different proximity to opportunity.

  •  Public policy can positively influence the geography of opportunity by expanding residential choices, transportation options and the locations of economic opportunity. Key place-based policy areas that affect the geography of opportunity include affordable housing policy, transit service and community development investments.

This report was submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in March 2014, as a requirement of the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant that funded this initiative.

Next steps

The Council has identified equity as one of five key regional outcomes from Thrive MSP 2040, alongside stewardship, prosperity, livability and sustainability. In Thrive MSP 2040, the Metropolitan Council commits to using equity as a lens to evaluate its operations, planning and investments. The Council also commits to exploring its authority to use its resources and roles to mitigate the place-based dimension of racial, ethnic and income-based disparities.