Neighborhood & Community Relations

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105 Fifth Avenue South 
Minneapolis, MN 55401
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612-673-3737

 

Neighborhoods 101

  1. What is a “neighborhood organization" in Minneapolis?
  2. What kinds of issues do neighborhood organizations work on?
  3. What challenges are neighborhood organizations facing now?
  4. What resources are available for neighborhood organizations?
  5. What are some online resources for neighborhood organizations and residents?

What is a neighborhood organization in Minneapolis?

The City of Minneapolis has 70 recognized neighborhood organizations representing 84 residential neighborhoods.

More about neighborhood organizations...

  • A neighborhood organization may represent 1 or more geographically defined neighborhoods.
  • Each neighborhood organization is an autonomous nonprofit organization and has a volunteer board of directors elected by residents (and sometimes other stakeholders).
  • Some neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis have histories going back more than 50 and even 100 years. Others have been around less than 20 years.
  • Communities represented by neighborhood organizations range from as few as 672 residents (Northeast Park) to more than 20,000 residents (Longfellow Community).
  • Some are highly diverse with multiple languages spoken at home (East Phillips) while others have little racial diversity.
  • All neighborhood organizations received funding through the Community Participation Program and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
  • Most neighborhood organizations have at least one part-time staff person, but some may be entirely run by volunteers. Large neighborhood organization may have several full- and part-time staff members.
  • There is a long history of funding programs supporting neighborhood organizations before NRP and CPP, including Model Cities and the Citizen Participation Program.
  • Some neighborhood organizations do additional fundraising and grant-writing, and have significant support from other funders besides the City.

Each recognized neighborhood organization must meet eligibility criteria identified in the Community Participation Program (CPP) Guidelines.

  • Geographically based
  • Represent neighborhood in its entirety
  • Provide for participation of all segments of neighborhood
  • Ensure membership is open to all residents
  • No barriers to resident participation
  • Hold regular open meetings
Figure 1. Range of diversity, poverty, and population of communities represented by neighborhood organizations.

Neighborhood Org Diversity, Poverty, Population

What do neighborhood organizations do?

Organize neighbors and community activities

  • Neighborhoods organizations organize neighbors to respond to local issues like affordable housing, the environment, neighborhood safety, transit and infrastructure and other livability issues.
  • Neighborhood organizations bring neighbors together for activities like community gardens, block clubs and block patrols, neighborhood festivals and events, community forums and youth and senior programs.

Neighborhood organizations engage residents and other stakeholders through:

  • Door-knocking
  • Community, committee and task force meetings
  • Focus groups and surveys
  • Publish newsletters and maintain email lists
  • Maintain online presence through websites and social media

Neighborhood Planning and Development

  • Neighborhood Action Plans (NRP and NPP)
  • Strategic plans for the organization
  • Small area plans
  • Commercial corridor planning
  • Park planning
  • Redevelopment planning
  • Respond to development proposals
  • Zoning variances and conditional use permits
  • Street and highway construction, upgrades and repair
  • Commercial development proposals
  • Environmental issues.

Deal with complex community issues and conflict

  • Historic preservation and neighborhood character.
  • Community discussions on race and class.
  • Respond to proposed developments.
  • Changing populations and demographics.
  • Respond to emergencies (e.g. 2011 tornado).
    • Provide services.
    • Organize volunteer cleanups.
    • Provide resources (e.g. redirect funds for home repair).
  • Paperwork, lots and lots of paper work
    • Writing grants and funding proposals
    • Reporting on use of funds and activities
    • News and information
    • Annual reports and legal filings (990s, MN Annual Report, etc).
    • Regular financial reports
    • Meeting minutes
    • Other record keeping (e.g. member records)

Opportunities and challenges facing neighborhood organizations

Changes in City Funding Programs

  • Neighborhood NRP funds are being drawn down over time.
  • 20 year program running from 1991 through 2010
  • All neighborhood organizations participated in NRP planning.
  • Some neighborhoods have fully expended NRP Phase I and Phase II plans.
  • New Community Participation Program funding program started in 2011.
  • The funding rules (i.e., NRP requirements) have largely stayed the same.

Agencies are looking to neighborhood organizations more often for community engagement and input

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation (e.g. Highway 94 sound wall).
  • Metro Transit (LRT routes and stations).
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (Proposed North Minneapolis Work Force Center).
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Waite House re-purposing).
  • Hennepin County (Penn Avenue Community Works project).
  • CPED planning (North Minneapolis Creative CityMaking).
  • Health Department (North Minneapolis Greenway).

Neighborhood organizations are seeking new partnerships and relationships.

  • South Urban Neighborhoods (SUN) partnership of 7 neighborhood organizations in South Minneapolis.
  • Northside Neighborhood Council (NNC) in North Minneapolis.
Figure 3: Agencies and groups that work with neighborhood organizations.

Groups that work with neighborhoods

Neighborhood Priority Plans are an evolving process

  • New Neighborhood Priority Plans are simpler to propose.
  • Neighborhood Priority Plans have led to better communications between neighborhood organizations and City departments.
  • NCR staff are reviewing NPP process to simplify and improve.

Grievances and legal actions

  • Neighborhood organizations have seen a significant increase in complaints, grievances and legal actions in the last few years.
  • Complaints have typically concerned the following issues:
    • Employment issues.
    • Failure to follow bylaws.
    • Failure to follow ADA requirements for meetings and notifications.
    • Challenges to annual elections.
    • Internal board disputes.
    • Failure to properly use City funds allocated to neighborhood organizations.
    • Failure to provide regular or clear financial reports to neighborhood organization board and residents.
    • Failure to include under-represented populations in neighborhood decision making process (e.g. renters, low-income individuals).
    • Failure to follow CPP Guidelines by creating barriers to participation.

Elections and candidates for office

  • Neighborhood organizations must remain strictly non-partisan in relation to candidates for office.
  • In the last two election cycles, some candidates have aggressively sought access to speak or be recognized at neighborhood meetings and events.
  • Failure to follow rules around elections can result in loss of 501(c)(3) status and City funding.

Resources for neighborhood organizations

NCR staff assistance

Risk management, legal services and insurance

  • Audit Services: NCR assembled a panel of CPA firms to assist with annual filings, financial compilations, financial reviews and audits.
  • Legal guidance: NCR has nonprofit attorneys on retainer to provide governance guidance as needed.
    • Request must come to NCR through the neighborhood organization's board chair.
    • Guidance from attorneys must be shared with full board.
  • Directors and Officers insurance: NCR assists with arranging a pooled Directors and Officers insurance policy to cover most neighborhood organizations.
  • General Liability insurance: NCR assists with arranging a pooled General Liability Policy to cover some neighborhood organizations.

Online resources

Last updated May 22, 2019

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