The St. Paul Inheritance Fund recently announced the first recipient of their program dedicated to providing aid to the Rondo descendants who were forced out of their homes almost 70 years ago.
Led by city officials such as Mayor Melvin Carter, leaders in charge of the program announced that resident Anthony Bradford is the first new homeowner to be rewarded with funds.
Awarded approximately $90,000 in funds for his new home, Bradford, 22, was able to buy a duplex in the same Rondo area in St. Paul, MN, that his family moved to following the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. At the age of 18, Bradford was previously left unhoused.
With approximately $2 million devoted to the St. Paul Inheritance Fund, the direct descendants of the misplaced Rondo residents will be able to get up to $110,00 in monetary value to purchase a home. Although only Rondo descendants can get extra funds for their homes, the Inheritance Fund also offers aid for home renovations and down payments for those with low incomes.
The dream of homeownership—and reclamation of lost value—was realized for Anthony Bradford, the first recipient of our Inheritance Fund dollars. This historic moment is a testament to the impact bold ideas can have on our work of helping our neighbors attain economic freedom. pic.twitter.com/1NiaPH5cai— Mayor Melvin Carter (@MayorCarter) September 13, 2023
After receiving the money, the recipients of the St. Paul Inheritance Fund will not need to repay the government if they continue to own the house for 15 years. If they decide to sell before the 15-year mark, they will get partial forgiveness for the funds.
“Our goal has always been to run out of money and to demonstrate the success and the impactfulness of this program, of this level of investment — to be able to go back to the [Housing Redevelopment Authority] and to be able to go back to our city council and say, ‘this is working,’” said Mayor Carter per CBS News.
For decades, the Rondo community in St. Paul, MN, thrived as a prominent neighborhood for the Black community; according to the project Reconnect Rondo, approximately 80% of the city’s Black American community lived in Rondo.
From 1954 to 1968, however, the Rondo neighborhood was a victim of racist construction plans as the city’s leaders created Interstate 94. Approved by city officials, the plan for I-94 ran straight through the middle of the Rondo neighborhood.
The building and creation of the highway tore the town apart as approximately 700 families lost their homes and 300 owners lost their businesses.
Although the neighborhood leaders, such as Reverend Floyd Massey and Timothy Howard, tried to fight for better conditions as part of the Rondo-St. Anthony Improvement Association, the neighborhood was unable to recover from the effects of the construction of the new interstate.
With the new St. Paul Inheritance Fund, city officials are now trying to make up for their predecessors’ decision to tear apart the Rondo neighborhood.
“We can’t undo those historical wrongs,” said Mayor Carter. “But what we can do is provide descendants of Old Rondo like Mr. Bradford the opportunity to reclaim that lost value to rebuild those family inheritances that were gutted to build the freeway that we stand not far from today.”