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Healthy and Equitable Development: Trends and Possibilites in the Suburbs

Healthy and Equitable Development: Trends and Possibilites in the Suburbs

Healthy and Equitable Development: Trends and Possibilites in the Suburbs Report

Date: 
May 1, 2017
Contact person: 

Download Healthy and Equitable Development: Trends and Possibilites in the Suburbs

What prevents Minnesota communities from building healthier, more equitable developments? In this report, we share the thoughts of community members, elected officials, city staff, and developers in first-ring suburbs of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul on problems and opportunities around affordable housing and active transportation. Their experiences offer insights into the challenges and barriers that first-ring suburbs face, including:

  • community opposition to active transportation infrastructure and new developments, including market rate and affordable housing;
  • lack of tools for preserving unsubsidized affordable housing and building mixed-income housing;
  • thinking only in terms of affordable housing, not affordable living;
  • limited funding for affordable housing;
  • meeting the needs and desires of residents who are currently car-dependent while working towards becoming more walkable and bikeable; and
  • retrofitting streets with sidewalks—and deciding who will pay for and maintain them.

Although many of these problems may seem intractable, there are ways to move forward. In this report, cities, developers, and other stakeholders will find suggestions for overcoming obstacles to healthier, more equitable development in the suburbs, including the following:

Community Engagement

  • Build authentic, long-term relationships with community members rather than transactional relationships. 
  • Engage the community early in the development process rather than after all decisions have been made. 
  • Create and fund ongoing, staffed community partnerships that help to create a cohesive community vision and make it easier for developers to engage productively in the community.
Check out the community engagement chapter summary and case study handouts for ideas on better engaging your community.
 
Active Living
 
  • Use demonstrations and temporary installations to help community members understand how biking and walking infrastructure will work, and to gather a broader array of perspectives beyond just those of adjacent property owners. 
  • Make sidewalks part of the city budget and maintain at least a network of sidewalks that provide connectivity to key destinations. 
  • Work toward equity in pedestrian and bike infrastructure by creating holistic plans for bike/walk networks throughout your community, rather than only building such infrastructure when new development occurs.

Read the active living chapter summary and case study handouts for ideas on making the transition to a walkable, bikeable city. 

Equity and Affordable Housing

  • Anticipate the conversion of informal affordable housing to market-rate housing, especially in areas well-served by transit, and take proactive steps to protect and support vulnerable residents. 
  • Work to connect low-income or unemployed residents to jobs within the city, and support education or training needed to help residents compete for jobs, rather than fighting new affordable housing. 
  • Humanize affordable housing residents and correct misperceptions to reduce fear of the unknown among neighbors. 
  • Break down silos to focus on affordable living, not just affordable housing.
Check out the subsidized affordable housing chapter summary and case study handouts to learn about trends and possibilities related to building subsidized affordable housing.
 
Take a look at the naturally occurring affordable housing chapter summary and case study handouts for ideas on preserving unsubsidized affordable housing in your city.


Download Healthy and Equitable Development: Trends and Possibilites in the Suburbs