In partnership with the City of Minneapolis’s Department of Community Planning & Economic Development, non-profit resources including the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, and in collaboration with other non-profit resources and public and private funders, Little Earth broke ground on its homeownership initiative this month.
Strategic planning and business and community partnerships have allowed Little Earth of United Tribes, founded in 1973, to realize its dream of providing affordable home ownership to its members. As part of an intensive strategic plan developed in 2006-2007, Little Earth Community Partnership implemented a “capacity-building initiative” which included the objective of opportunity for home ownership for its members.
With the assistance of the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, five properties are part of the project: one rehab home and four new homes to be constructed. Jeff Washburne, executive director of City of Lakes Community Land Trust, said, “this idea makes sense on a variety of fronts—it’s about the people as much as about the project. It’s really about moving people forward [in life] through stability of home ownership, that then allows owners to start thinking about other things in life, think about the future, while keeping close connections with the Little Earth community and its resources.”
City of Minneapolis council member Gary Schiff is very supportive of the Little Earth home initiative project. He said that home ownership is another positive step and “stage two” for Little Earth. “It’s a real investment in the community—a real sign of hope for those who want to be homeowners.”
Property acquisition has started in the block south of Little Earth’s rental housing campus bordering E. M. Stately Street. Schiff said that this area became saturated with drug and crime after Bill Ziegler, President/CEO of Little Earth, adopted a zero-tolerance policy of crime and drugs in Little Earth’s rental housing. Development in this area will allow distressed property and housing that had been tied to drug-related crime to become valuable assets to the city as well as Little Earth.
Little Earth of United Tribes is the largest Native-owned and operated low-income rental housing community in the Unites States. Its housing complex, located in a nine-block area in the East Phillips neighborhood, provides 212 housing units to over 900 people, 98% of the residents being American Indian.