Northside Collective 1

Critical: North Leaders, Vote to Support Youth by Sept. 8th

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Note: The school board has postponed their vote (though may vote at any time) and the City Planning Commission is now set to vote Sept. 8th -both because of YOUR pressure for accountability. We believe we may be able to file an injunction because of the lack of notification to the community. Please donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/northside-community-gordon-center-fundsutm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1 to support those legal efforts.

For easy FAQs and to stay updated, visit www.northsidecollectives.com

P.S. We've heard folks have gotten responses to their concerned letters from Commisioners Conley and Fernando with misleading facts in them. Go to www.northsidecollectives.com and "Fact Check Fernando/Conley" to see where we fact-check their statements.

The Willard School (in particular, the Gordon Center) has been asked to be used by community members on the Northside for youth development and programming for years, without support. We have now found out that the school intends to sell the property for $1 back to the County, with approval from the City, to be permanently used as the third largest emergency short-term shelter in Minneapolis. It will not allow for families or children. Because it is short-term only (30 days or less) and serves as a city-wide shelter (people will be redirected daily from all over Hennepin County), it does little to help actual folks on the Northside with housing issues.

The school board will vote on this sale soon, and the planning commission of City Council will vote Sept. 8th for its permanent use. We need folks who support our youth to stand up and be heard. We know how to help and build our community. We do not need another short-term emergency shelter that offers no long-term housing solutions. Out of the 3 women-only shelters across the City of Minneapolis, 2 of them are within 1 mile of the Willard School site. This will make it 3 out of 4, within a mile radius of each other.

  • This proposal is an incredible loss to the community and the approval process for this proposal has not included the community or BIPOC leadership on the Northside. The city has received 4.5 million in emergency COVID funding to find usable space for this shelter; enough money to buy or rent another building for shelter needs rather than paying those funds to convert this space from its natural use. Both initiatives can be accomplished. The city can find another location for this shelter and the Northside community can utilize the school to serve it's youth which it has asked to do for years.
  • Kerry Jo Felder, our School Board District rep is against this proposal.
  • Our community council, NRRC, stands against this proposal
  • Please join in the voices that say: a school and playground are best used in servicing youth. We support women experiencing homelessness and welcome a dialogue with community stakeholders to locate a space that serves them well. The Gordon Center can and should be utilized differently and as a BIPOC community, we ask the city to value our judgement about our own community and the voices of our BIPOC leadership.
  • The School Board vote will be soon and the permanent City Council Planning Commission vote is Sept. 8th. Email your concerns/comments for the Planning Commission to shanna.sether@minneapolismn.gov and ask for your comments to be presented to the council as part of the application. Then please sign this petition as well as reach out to the school board and planning committee members with your concerns. Download a letter template and see all the contact information for officials at www.northsidecollectives.com
  • August 16th at 2pm we will be at 16th/Queen in front of the Gordon Center to protest this proposal. Please join and raise your voice for what you'd like to see!


Shelter Facts:

It will be the first and only emergency shelter in the city of Minneapolis to be placed in a solely residential neighborhood. It is an unprecedented zoning choice: no high-volume, short-term emergency shelter has ever been placed in a Minneapolis residential neighborhood before now (go to www.northsidecollectives.com for visuals of the zoning of each emergency shelter in Minneapolis). If passed, it will be the third largest, short-term emergency shelter in Minneapolis. It is worth noting our NRRC president, our School District representative and A Mother's Love, a local grassroots NGO, are all headed by BIPOC women firmly committed to social justice and the Northside. All stand against this proposal for use of the Gordon Center site.

Out of the 3 women-only shelters across the City of Minneapolis, 2 of them are within ~1 mile of the Willard School site. This will make it 3 out of 4. St. Anne's is an emergency shelter (women-only, accepts children, county funding) and Ascension Place is a women-only transitional housing/shelter, also within a mile (both emergency/immediate and long-term, mixed funding).

It will not allow for families or children. Because it is short-term only (30 days or less) and serves as a city-wide shelter (people will be redirected daily through the shelter hub connect from all over Hennepin County), it does little to help actual folks on the Northside with housing issues.This is not about serving the Northside and adding to its value.

There are no emergency shelters for adults in any solely residential neighborhood on the Southside or any other part of Minneapolis. The shelter will be closed during the day, making its clients leave every morning to enter a residential neighborhood with no coffee shop, public library, grocery store, or social space within walking distance. This does nothing to serve the critical clients' daily needs or support the use of the adjoining children's park (no children will be allowed at this shelter but neighborhood children use it often). These clients would be better served being in a more central location just as youth programming would be better served being next to a residential park.

It is underfunded. St. Anne's, a well-respected women's shelter nearby, has an 800k+ annual budget to serve 152 women. This shelter, at the Gordon Center, has an operating yearly budget of ~650k despite being higher-volume and with higher-crisis clients. They intend to serve 400+ women at the Gordon Center on a far smaller budget with a higher-needs population. When compared to successful shelters on the Northside, they are unprepared and underfunded from the start. This is made worse by the fact the shelter does not have BIPOC leadership or community support.

The current administrator of the initiative has changed since this proposal and is now the Salvation Army as other local agencies bowed out. The Salvation Army has a long history of transphobia and a womyn-only shelter deserves better than the standards of care demonstrated by the Salvation Army. To say this choice of administrator is problematic is an understatement. Trans community activists have not been engaged in this proposal or the selection of this service provider just as the Northside was not engaged on the unprecedented zoning placement of a shelter at a site the local BIPOC community has sought access to for years to support youth initiatives.

The city has received 4.5 million in emergency COVID funding to find usable space for this shelter; that is more than enough money to buy or rent another building for shelter needs. Both initiatives can be accomplished. The Gordon Center can be used for our youth and a high-volume, emergency shelter can still be created. This could be a win/win rather than a lose/lose for the Northside.

We ask for one year from the County so that as a community we can raise funds both publicly and privately for this location to be used as the community resource it is positioned to be. We believe in this political climate we will be able to solicit the commitments needed for the funds to rehab the building and create structured programming. We ask for one year to submit RFPs. If we are not able to meet the needs of the building or community in that time, we will engage the county in dialogue about county uses. But we ask for the chance. We ask for you to believe the BIPOC community that we know what we need and to hear that this placement will have negative effects you were unable to forsee. Believe in our voices, beliece Black womyn.

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