By Robin Amer
When James Kpoto bought his house in Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood in 2001, he knew he had made a terrible mistake. He moved to the 2300 block of Ilion Avenue North at the advice of his uncle, also an immigrant from Liberia. But his uncle didn’t tell him how bad crime was there — worse than in most other areas according to police data.
“There were shootings and killings almost every day,” Kpoto recalls. “It was scary.”
Kpoto considered “walking away” from his house, despite a $95,000 mortgage. A local police officer encouraged him to start a block club instead. Kpoto was shocked when more than 15 people showed up to the first meeting.
Today, Kpoto, 58, is proud of his part of Jordan, a mostly black low- to middle-income neighborhood where the average resident makes just more than $30,000 a year: “You can see how quiet this block is compared to other blocks.”
Looking among colorful prewar homes and manicured lawns dotted with tiger lilies and blue bells, signs of a second crisis emerge – one that threatens the financial stake and sweat equity Kpoto and his neighbors have invested.