Nieeta Presley's Response

Aurora St Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC) is a community development agency that has served the Frogtown and Rondo areas of Saint Paul for last 36 years. Our services include physical development (the construction and rehabilitation of affordable homes and retail space), economic development (an entrepreneurship training program and business retention work), and human/social and political development (political education, a resident leadership and youth development training progarams) . “Our mission is to foster positive relationships within and between . “Our mission is to foster positive relationships within and between the neighborhoods we serve and to support our members in effecting the quality of life in their communities”.  Our vision is “to improve the economic and social well-being of the people we serve”. ASANDC has galvanized the community to push for alternative redevelopment vision from one which could leave community members saddled with burdens to one that builds wealth, improves the quality of life, and lifts people out of poverty yet not out of the neighborhood. Due to the Green Line development, Frogtown-Rondo, housing costs and pressure are rising especially fast in Frogtown-Rondo which a main contributor to gentrification.

Frogtown-Rondo is a racially concentrated area of poverty (RCAP), where over 50% of residents are people of color and over 40% have incomes below 185% of federal poverty level. 63% of residents are renters, including 70% of African-Americans, and many face housing challenges such as substandard housing, barriers to access (e.g. criminal record, rigid screening), severe and rising housing cost burdens, and a threat of displacement (regionally, African-Americans are three times as likely as other renters to expect eviction within two months). Frogtown-Rondo residents have historically been excluded from decision-making, most notably in the construction of I-94 through Rondo, a community whose tightly woven fabric was infamously disrupted when Interstate 94 was constructed through the neighborhood in the 1960s thus laying the foundation to be cumulatively impacted by yet another mega infrastructure project (namely the Greenline LRT).

The problems that ASANDC continues to work on are barriers to stable and affordable housing in Frogtown-Rondo that new construction cannot solve. So far, through our Frogtown Rondo Action Network (FRAN) community base research, surveys show the most concerning barriers are: rising rents; increasing application fees; substandard housing; landlord negligence and retaliation; rental discrimination; and application denials based on background and credit checks. In fact, the national crisis in rising rents and housing cost burdens for the poor is worsening. 

Many residents, who come into our office, also expressed to us through word-of-mouth that they faced challenges related to the rising costs of rent and ongoing threats of gentrification and economic displacement, especially in Frogtown-Rondo. Many feared being priced out of their homes and their community. We have also engaged former Frogtown-Rondo residents who seek to return to the area but can no longer find housing within their price range. In particular, many residents were concerned with a lack of adequate, livable affordable housing and increasing economic displacement through gentrification. Many also expressed horror at some of the improper practices of landlords and their minimization of the challenges often facing their current and potential tenants, which they viewed as intertwined with the challenge of affordable housing access. One such resident is Lavenna Ransom said that her family has: Jean Pieri) been looking for months for months for a market rate home to rent or buy as their own Rondo area. Lavenna said the price of a 3BR+ is roughly $1,000 to $1,300+.  And that the required income is three times the rent. (Pioneer Press - October 21, 2016 – “the Green Line Blues: Housing prices spike in the Central Corridor (University Avenue) poorest neighborhood – Tad Vezner

In an article from The Twin Cities Daily Planet (October 10, 2016) – “Renters Collectively demand justice, equity from Minneapolis and St Paul” – “Twin Cities residents are losing their homes as more and more housing is sold to developers looking to upscale their housing complexes, according to the MHP report. The developer boom has led to a decrease in affordable housing units, increasing the costs of affordable housing, and – as Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) Executive Director Chip Halbach pointed out – may lead to an increase in family homelessness unless immediate action is taken.

“It is a situation that has worsened to the extent that stronger reactions and actions are needed. [Without those reactions and actions] it looks like there will be continued investment and loss of more of these properties….”

Nieeta PresleyNieeta Presley was appointed as Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation’s (ASANDC) Executive Director after serving 1 ½ years as its Community Organizer in 2002.  Ms. Presley has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Metropolitan State University in which she self-designed her degree using her previous University of Minnesota nursing course work, her life experiences, and other business course work. She placed an emphasis on project planning, budget management, policy analysis, community and economic development, and non-profit management.  She is a Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Careership graduate of 2001 and has completed training in housing finance and real estate development, grant writing and fund development.  Ms. Presley came to ASANDC after working 16 years at HealthPartners in their Utilization Management Department as a Utilization Authorization Examiner.  She also was trained while there to provide diversity awareness training for current and new employees.  During her HealthPartners’ tenure, she lead several initiatives to change the how HealthPartners approaches its delivery of health care and services.  She was responsible for HealthPartners systems’ to be more culturally competent and respectful.  She was awarded two employee leadership awards for her gallant work at HealthPartners.