Eden Prairie, MN losing Somali population due to lack of low-income housing?

This very lengthy story at USA Today is an important read to learn about the battle that occurred there in recent years over the diversity-created achievement gap in the schools when large numbers of Somali refugees arrived. It is well-worth reading so that your community might be prepared for the day when your Muslim population gets above 3% in your city or county.

A Minnesota classroom. Photo: http://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2013/10/innovative-program-minneapolis-helps-somali-children-ease-transition-school

I’ve been studying some of the percentages of Muslim populations in certain countries and cities and my guess is that about 3% is the point where demands begin to be made.

According to this article (Diversity in the Classroom) at USA Today, if Eden Prairie does have 4,500 Somalis in a population of 81,000 then they are already in the 5% range:

About 1,800 Eden Prairie residents claimed Somali ancestry on the latest U.S. Census survey, but city officials peg the number closer to 4,500 in a city of about 81,000, making them the city’s largest group of non-European descent….

Statewide, there are at least 32,000 Somalis as Minnesota, like many other states, adjusts to a second wave of immigration that is transforming the nation and our education system.

There is a fantastic “school diversity index” for every state in the nation that is definitely worth seeing.  (Maryland is near the top of the scale with a white school-age population of only 42% compared to Vermont and Maine both with 92% white kids in schools).

I recommend that you read the whole article, but here at the end was a bit that interested me.

Not enough affordable housing means they will move on?

But even with the success of the boundary change, Jama (Ahmed Jama) says he’s seeing something perhaps more troubling: Affordable housing in Eden Prairie is drying up, threatening to reverse the gains in diversity.

Analysts say the city needs more than 1,800 units of affordable housing to keep pace with its population growth. The Metropolitan Council, a local government entity that studies housing, transportation and other civic issues, estimated recently that Eden Prairie needs 1,844 new affordable units by 2020 for local residents working in service industries and other lower-wage jobs. But landlords in Minnesota have the discretion to reject subsidized housing vouchers, says the council’s Libby Starling. “When vacancy rates are falling, landlords can be pickier about who they accept as tenants,” she says.

The result, Jama and others have said, is a steep drop in the Somali population of Eden Prairie — 40% by one estimate, though Starling says she hadn’t seen a drop in the latest Census figures. “If there is a trend of Somalis leaving, it’s probably new enough so that none of our data sources would be able to capture it.”

Jama says the change has actually occurred since 2010, but it’s unmistakable.

We have written on several previous occasions about Eden Prairie, here are those posts.

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