The Community Transformation Plan
Poverty remains one of the largest hurdles for Little Earth families to overcome. A high percentage of families at Little Earth were forced to depend on public assistance and subsidized housing for multiple generations. Very few residents in the neighborhood model the skills needed to live a healthy, self-sufficient life for the next generation of children coming up. Statistics from the HUD Policy Development and Research U.S. Subsidized Households 2008 report demonstrate the intractable nature of poverty and challenges to self-determination:
- 94 % of the households are headed by women at Little Earth.
- Almost two-thirds (61%) of Little Earth households are headed by single mothers, compared to only 38% in all HUD housing in the United States.
- 13% of the women with children are under the age of 24, which is 44 percent higher than in HUD housing nation-wide.
- Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Little Earth households have an annual income less than $9,999, compared to only 49% of households in all US HUD housing.
- Nearly one-quarter (24%) of households at Little Earth derive their income from welfare, compared to only 9% living in HUD housing nation-wide.
- In the neighborhood immediately surrounding Little Earth, 42% live in poverty and 88% are minorities–nearly twice the rates in communities surrounding all US HUD housing.
Traditional responses to the above conditions have addressed issues independent of the surrounding factors which results in a fragmentary solution that ultimately is unable to reverse the destructive trends that impede the American Indian community achieving self-determination. Systemic change in this environment must stem from a complete and holistic effort, where programs seek to address not just a single issue, but many issues contributing to the overall condition. As a result, we have been able to strip away the layers of historical trauma, dysfunction and the sense of being disenfranchised that are present in much of the American Indian population. It’s through our programs embracing culturally relevant models that we are able to cure that which ails this community.
The Community Transformation Plan (CTP) is a multifaceted poverty reduction strategy comprised of economic and social support programs centered around the Little Earth Home Ownership initiative combined with a comprehensive housing policy. It is designed to deal with the systemic causes within the Native population and reshape the economic, education and social expectations in the Little Earth community. It will promote resident self-sufficiency by providing opportunity and access to services such as schools, transportation, jobs, mentoring, workforce development and social services as well as creating safer, family-friendly environments. In so doing, the CTP would empower residents to end years of isolation and the cycle of poverty, build wealth and spur the revitalization of communities surrounding Little Earth.
The strategy is comprised of three elements:
- The Little Earth Home Ownership Initiative: The Program equips emerging home owners with the skills to successfully maintain a home, provides diversity in income and retains model community members to help build leaders and the community for the future. (Please see Programs and Services page for specific information on the Homeownership Initiative.)
- Economic and Social Support Programs: These programs, such as the Volunteer Program, the Employment and College Navigator Program, and the Omniciye Program provide the social and economic support needed for emerging communities to develop and reshape their skill sets. The implementation of culturally specific program models makes overcoming the hurdles traditionally faced by urban communities a reality. (Please see Programs and Services page for specific information each program we offer.)
- Little Earth CTP Housing Policy: This program is a long-term initiative that will serve as a public housing model that is replicable in communities nationwide as it facilitates the realization of self-determination for Indian people.
These programs, working together, serve as the catalyst for raising expectations and promoting self determination in our community, and as a model for economic and sustained growth in urban Indian communities nationwide.
As a community organization, we understand that serving our residents individually will not achieve our goals. But by serving the larger American Indian community through our programs and replicable models, we are able to create a ripple effect of improved economic opportunities, lower crime rates, reduced scholastic achievement gap, reduced health disparities, and the attainment of self-determination. Recognizing that Little Earth and the surrounding community is a significant part of the greater Minneapolis Area, our successes here will radiate out to benefit the city like a stone cast into a reflecting pool.
The Effect on Social Service and Public Housing Policy
In the case of Native American communities, social issues are compounded by the cultural disconnect from reservation life. Reservation life provides a sense of place, understanding and cultural grounding. When moving from reservations to urban settings these familiar cultural anchors are removed. As a result, many Native American families have felt a sense of abandonment and disenfranchisement or historical trauma, which has led to an overwhelming dependence on public assistance. As generations pass, this condition has been perpetuated, adding to it new obstacles to self-determination that stem from the negative effects of urban life. As stated earlier in this document, traditional responses to these conditions have addressed issues independent of the surrounding factors. The result is a fragmentary solution that ultimately is unable to reverse the destructive trends that impede the attainment of self-determination. It is this “silo-theory” that is at the heart of modern social service policy.
By the CTP embracing a holistic effort where our programs seek to create systemic change by addressing many issues contributing to the overall condition, we are breaking from silo-theory and forming new family-based, multi-service solutions specifically designed to build trust and cooperation between families and service providers. On the level of social service policy, the success we have already seen is being noted by public safety practitioners, multiple levels of government, public health practitioners and social service organizations. As our programs move forward into the future, and continue to reverse the damage done by historical trauma, the effects on social service policy will be undeniable. Within the framework of how communities address these social issues, we have created a blueprint which is transportable and replicable in nearly any community nationwide.
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Housing Policy Change:
By creating a new housing policy for Little Earth, supporting it with economic and social service programs and by augmenting these social service and housing activities with the Little Earth Homeownership Initiative, we are undertaking a unique effort to build our community from within.
The new housing policy will promote and support our residents’ successful transition to stable housing through programs and partnerships focused on workforce development, leadership, youth achievement, and senior services that maximize the availability of community resources for our residents. Equally important in the CTP is to break the cycle of poverty and support residents in their efforts to live a better quality of life. By implementing the Work Requirement, we will break the cycle of dependence and provide access for Little Earth residents to volunteer, workforce training, and education opportunities. The Work Requirement is a unique tool that fosters community and personal responsibility and provides the support services to help community members reintegrate with the larger metropolitan community. The Work Requirement, supported by holistic services, represents a new and ground-breaking philosophy in public housing policy..