The West Side Flats Displacement Research
Sixty years ago, West Siders were forcibly displaced from a neighborhood called the West Side Flats– but they didn’t just lose their homes. The financial, environmental, health, and cultural impacts of the displacement continue to shape our neighborhood today. The West Side Flats Displacement Research Project is an in-depth research project that seeks to understand and document the many forms of injustice that took place when West Siders were forced from their homes.
“How many families were not fairly compensated for their homes?” Asks Monica Bravo, Executive Director at WSCO. “What opportunities for generational wealth building were cut short? What was the cultural cost of dispersing one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods? Who benefited from this displacement? How will future development in our neighborhood avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and work towards truly equitable opportunities for all West Siders?”
To answer these questions, we are partnering with Research in Action, a local Black, queer led urban research, strategy, coaching and engagement firm founded by Dr. Brittany Lewis. The findings from this research will allow us to chart a path forward in our Equitable Development work. We will reinvest in our community and keep racial and economic justice at the center of our work.
“It used to flood every spring, and people were put out of their homes. People would get sick because of the water contamination. And at the time, you know, most of those people had no place else to go.” – Amparo Gaston, pictured, above. Photo by Elizabeth Leonardsmith.
Learn more about the history of the West Side Flats, and visit our photo gallery of Stories From the Flats.
What is redress?
Redress, also known as repair, includes recognizing past harms and taking accountability for them via the concrete actions based on the community’s needs. This could include creating new opportunities for residents of the old West Side Flats and their descendants through reallocation of resources and economic reinvestment, housing, holding space for healing through art and storytelling, or other actions.
Centering those most impacted
As we develop plans for redress and repair, that decisionmaking process will led by neighbors who have been historically marginalized– Black, Indigenous, and people of color; youth and our elders; renters’ queer folks; people living with disabilities; women; and immigrants.
Beyond the West Side
We recognize that this history has repeated across the city, and we hope to build solidarity with the Rondo neighborhood and other parts of the Twin Cities who are demanding redress for the harms caused by generational trauma and economic loss at the hands of racist exclusionary urban planning decisions led by the City and Federal government.