Urban Homeworks Community —

As the ongoing issues of gun violence, solicitation, and illicit substances continue to impact the 21st Ave intersections of Emerson and Fremont, we want to express our shared concern for the neighborhood and be transparent about the work we are doing to combat these issues, as well as the work that still needs to be done.

Though we have been continuously at work in this area to make homes safe and dignified for our neighbors and our residents, we agree that things are still not what they should be. After the investigations of Merwin Liquors and Winner Gas Station in 2022, many of the long-standing activities from the area moved to this corridor. These activities are born from centuries of racist policies, practices, and disinvestment in North Minneapolis—they did not begin overnight and cannot be solved overnight.

Urban Homeworks has been working with the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), and the West Broadway Livability Coalition to ensure that solutions for the corridor address the root causes and avoid continuing to push activities to different locations. Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing community members, organizational leaders, and elected officials together at our properties on the block to understand the problems impacting the corridor and discuss new initiatives to disrupt the ongoing activity. If we truly seek to solve these problems, our responses must be holistic and systemic.

As we work on realizing meaningful long-term solutions, we have short-term solutions at work to reduce activity in the area. Two of our three properties in this corridor are occupied, one under renovation. Our third property in the corridor is vacant and remains boarded, secured, and marked with “No Trespassing” signage while we renovate in preparation for sale to a community-vested owner-occupant. Repeated break-ins at this property have made the renovation process slow.

We visit our properties in this area multiple times daily to clear loiters and speak with residents to better understand happenings on the block, discourage door propping, and encourage calling 311 or 911 when witnessing criminal activity. Any garbage or foliage in the area has been reported to the city for clean-up or dealt with if on UHW property. Any UHW residents who have been found guilty of selling or distributing drugs have had their leases terminated.

We have been continuously requesting increased MPD surveillance and responsiveness in the area; tracking 911 calls that have been made in the area by residents or staff. Since 2020, UHW has employed community-based peacekeeping in the area, working to thoughtfully de-escalate activity and compassionately protect neighbors. We have applied for grants to cover additional private security in the area and are working internally with various security organizations.

Our overall goals are to, 1. create a positive presence in the area, moving in more neighbors who are passionate about community; 2. move more resources into the area, working to address the long-standing, deep-seated issues of poverty, addiction, and displacement impacting neighbors; and 3. create more intentional, informed partnerships with service organizations, government, and law enforcement in the area. We need neighbors, elected officials, and safety groups in the area to recognize our shared responsibility and work together to ensure that these issues are solved not just for today, but for tomorrow.

This is not an extensive list of all the community partners we have spoken with nor all the actions we have taken to protect our neighbors. We understand the very real frustrations and fears that continued activities cause. If you have further questions or concerns, we welcome you to reach out to us over email at communications@urbanhomeworks.org.