Many cities make up the Twin Cities metropolitan region, and these cities vary greatly in population size, racial and economic diversity, and resources. Discussions continue about how to best serve the needs of our individual communities, while at the same time helping our overall region to pull together to face the effects that the existence of poverty within our communities has on us all and on the vitality of our region as a whole. The Met Council’s recent once-in-a-decade plan to guide development in the region examines these issues. In the search for answers to the question of how best to repair the negative effects of poverty and position next generations of Minnesotans to step out of poverty and into positive roles in our communities, many debate the pros and cons of using our resources to increase availability of affordable housing in existing low income neighborhoods versus committing these resources to make affordable housing more accessible in affluent neighborhoods that offer residents higher levels of opportunity related to jobs, transit, safety, and high quality schools.
At the same time, stakeholders wrangle with questions of how best to coordinate our regions’ collective response to issues of poverty and adequate access to affordable housing. Do these issues in fact require a regional response, such as that by the Met Council, or can they be dealt with by isolated cities without consideration of how cities’ individual plans will affect the Twin Cities metropolitan region as a whole? The Met Council this year is making an historic commitment in its regional planning to increase focus on neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. In response to a columnist criticizing these efforts, senior staff at HPP offer perspective on these issues and give support to the Met Council in this role.