Critics Say 'Green Home' Initiative Wastes Public Money

Updated: 03/14/2013 11:30 PM By: Jay Kolls

Neighborhood activists tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they like the Green Homes North Initiative's goals, but say it is not run well.

The program was launched by the City of Minneapolis to help fill vacant lots with "green", or energy-efficient homes. The city offers financial incentives to contractors who agree to build "green" homes on empty lots owned by the city on the north side.

But, professional renovation experts and neighborhood groups say some of the parcels on the Green Homes list have structurally sound homes on them which are slated for demolition.

Brian Finstad is a home renovator who lives on the North side and he tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he's found many homes on the Green List that are on the city's demolition list and he says many of those homes are perfectly good and just need to be renovated. Finstad says it would actually be more "green", or energy efficient, to renovate rather than tear down a home and build a new house. Finstad says knocking down a home that can be renovated creates extra costs for the city and taxpayers and leaves a void in the neighborhood.

Minneapolis City Housing Director, Tom Streitz, tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the city does not demolish good homes. He says the city inspects the home thoroughly and if it is not worth saving, they knock it down. But, Streitz says, if the home can be renovated the city aggressively pursues many types of different contractors and works with neighborhood groups to sell the home and move a family into it. The city says it paid out $660-thousand to contractors to build 13 "green homes" in 2012 and has another $1.2-million to offer this year. The city hopes to see 18 new "green homes" go up in 2013.