Foreclosures have become a sign of the times, but community organizations and average citizens are working to combat this epidemic sweeping through North Minneapolis. On Sunday, Feb. 22, members from both the Northside Minneapolis and Jewish communities came together at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church for an interfaith celebration of black history month and to launch the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition’s (NCRC) Campaign to Defend Community Wealth.
The NCRC is formed by a group of organizations (including Jewish Community Action (JCA), Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, and the Hawthorne Neighborhood Organization) that came together to help Northside residents work with banks to modify home loans.
The Campaign to Defend Community Wealth began eight months ago when the NCRC went through public records of Northside home mortgages and determined which were at the greatest risk for foreclosure. The NCRC then sent letters and went door-to-door to inform these homeowners of the risk of losing their homes and gave them information about organizations that provide financial counseling. The financial counselors will work with homeowners and mortgage companies to develop maintainable loan modifications. The NCRC will compile information on which mortgage companies are the most helpful with loan modifications and which are not.
David Snyder of JCA, one of the organizers for the event, said the term community wealth was used for the campaign to get people to think about reaching out to neighbors who are suffering financially. “Community wealth means beyond just individual wealth,” he said. “If people have money, the whole community benefits. The community suffers when predatory lenders strip that wealth.”
The purpose of the event at New Salem Baptist Church was not only to educate people about the work NCRC is doing but also to try and rebuild the relationship between the African-American and Jewish communities on the Northside.
“Jews used to live side by side with African-Americans on the North side,” said Snyder. “We want to rebuild a joint community together.” He added that African-Americans are not the only group affected by foreclosures but they have experienced a strong impact from foreclosures and it makes sense to reach out to them.
Another purpose of the event was to encourage people to get involved and help their neighbors. Kenya McKnight, an active member with the NCRC who is now running for Minneapolis City Council in the fifth ward, said a good way to get involved is to reach out to community organizations and to attend community meetings.
One of NCRC’s partner organizations, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, will provide financial counseling to those who are facing foreclosure or who want to prevent foreclosure. Cheryl Peterson, manager of the Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program at Habitat for Humanity spoke at the event and said they want to “make people aware that there is free help available to them.”
The message seems to be reaching some of those in need. An attendee at the event, Ivy Kyles, said she went to the meeting because “I went through foreclosure three years ago and I wanted to learn more information.”
Snyder said he hopes people that attended the event “saw a coalition that has support from both inside and outside the (North side) community.” He also hopes people felt a need to get involved whether they are from New Salem church, the Jewish community, or any other group.
Sadie Lundquist is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota and an intern at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.