Hennepin County Human Services opened its first satellite office in Brooklyn Center to make applying for or renewing benefits more convenient and less intimidating than the trek to downtown Minneapolis. The Center offers a multitude of services ranging from education to economic assistance, such as assistance with Child Support, SNAP (food support), cash assistance, health care programs, and emergency assistance. Hennepin County Human Services’ partners in the building include the Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) and Osseo Area Schools. “The Hub and the partnerships make it easier for families to get help when they need it close to home and they can have ready access to education, which is critical to long-term success. We are much better working together to meet the critical needs people have,” said Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat.
Brooklyn Park experienced high crime rates in the late 2000s, but with the creation of the The Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth and the Zanewood Recreation Center, the city is experiencing all time lows. “And we’re three times as diverse,” says Mayor Lunde, so the notion that “diversity causes crime, it’s simply factually incorrect.” The Alliance coordinates action-based teams with staff from schools, cities, county and community colleges to change policies, develop new action, and work together to build resources. A focus of the organization is to prepare youth for positions of leadership for personal and community vitality through opportunities like Motivation Youth Festival, Youth in City Government Day, and Brooklyns Youth Council. Located near the City Hall, Library, and Shingle Creek Regional Trail, a popular pedestrian and bicycle corridor, the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth is knit into the community fabric.
The Empowerment Center is a collaborative project to renovate an old elementary school into a service hub for partner agencies that provide supportive services to homeless and low-income households. The center is adjacent to a permanent supportive housing development, and is owned by a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. The renovation means extending the life of the building by at least 20 years as well as providing a much needed community asset. The long-term goal of the center is to strengthen Rochester by breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and homelessness through early interventions. According to the American Community Survey, in 2016, 10.7% of individuals living in Rochester lived below the poverty line (for comparison, Minneapolis was 21.3%)–23% are Black residents and 4.3% Asian (Census Bureau, 2015).