Stops For Us

In the winter 2010 issue of Shelterforce, we published an article, Organizing for Inclusive TOD that looked at various transit and transit oriented development projects around the country, and how organizing helped shape those projects, providing either affordable housing or rail service to communities that were not included in the original blueprints.

From the Bay Area to New Jersey to Atlanta, we saw how effective organizing changed once abstract plans into designs specifically tailored to the needs of the community, but there was one item that stood out: the Stops For Us campaign in the Twin Cities. There, community groups in one low-income neighborhood had to fight to not be skipped over by transit entirely.

“The goal of the $941 million Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Minneapolis and St. Paul is to connect the downtowns of the Twin Cities, moving people within a corridor that already has a high density of residents and jobs. The idea is less to focus on getting between St. Paul and Minneapolis fast than to encourage greater, more intense mixed-use development along the corridor.”

But three pivotal stops in historically low-income neighborhoods were omitted from original plans. In the Summer 2011 issue of Shelterforce, Tracy Babler, development and communications director of the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, reports on Stops For Us, a coalition that pushed strongly for the inclusion of the three LRT stops:

“Although plans had been in the works since the 1980s, broad community interest in the Central Corridor was piqued when the line’s alignment and planned stations were announced in 2006. Notably absent were three stations that had been part of earlier concept designs. The now-missing stations were all in the eastern University Avenue section, where the largest populations of low-income people and people of color lived and where bus lines were both heavily used and few and far between.”

So what began as a piece of a broader look at inclusive TOD projects turned into a deep look at how a broad spectrum of community groups, all equipped with their own interests, came together for the purpose of providing rail service to an overlooked community (and they convinced the federal government to change its funding rules, to boot).

Read the article here.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.

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