In 1992, the residents of Longfellow, Cooper, Howe and Hiawatha came together to lay the groundwork for a coordinated effort to strengthen and reinvigorate greater Longfellow, the community which incorporates the four neighborhoods.
Under the auspices of the Longfellow Community Council (LCC), the four neighborhoods submitted an application to participate in the City’s newly established Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP).
When Longfellow was selected for inclusion in NRP in August 1992, its community, with a population of more than 20,000 was — and still is – the largest NRP area in Minneapolis.
In 1993, Longfellow initiated its first pilot NRP project— a low-interest home improvement program targeted at homeowners in the western end of the community.
That same year, LCC developed a participation agreement, which specified how it would prepare its NRP action plan.
After nearly two years of intensive outreach meetings, door-to-door surveys and written questionnaires, Longfellow’s action plan was completed in 1995 and approved by the Minneapolis City Council in early 1996. The plan envisioned a future “where the housing stock is well maintained and affordable, our natural resources are preserved and enhanced, and all residents have a sense of connectedness, commitment and responsibility.”
The plan established goals for Longfellow in five broad areas: housing, environment and transportation, community development, neighborhood safety, and youth and families.
A long history of community building
In 2006, area residents can look back at more than a decade of community building – stimulated by a citizen-directed NRP plan that has touched virtually every block of Longfellow, Cooper, Howe and Hiawatha.
Many of NRP’s most important contributions over the last dozen years have been difficult to quantify. They include:
- A revitalized community organization that has become an effective advocate for Longfellow and its residents.
- Volunteer efforts by hundreds of residents who have banded together to promote community betterment through projects ranging from playground construction to block clubs to River Gorge restoration.
- The rediscovery of an important but hidden assets—Longfellow’s stock of well-preserved craftsman-era bungalows.
NRP statistics provide an impressive record of achievement:
- More than 15 percent of the housing stock in the four neighborhoods have been improved as a result of Longfellow NRP housing programs.
- A total of $9.3 million in NRP funds has leveraged over $15 million in additional improvements in Longfellow.
- LCC has directly recaptured more than $1.2 million of its initial NRP investments through its revolving loan funds.