Rondo neighborhood: First home purchased in St. Paul homeownership project

It's a special day in the capital city as the community celebrates a new homeownership program. This program is aimed at giving back to the residents and descendants of the historic Rondo neighborhood, who were significantly impacted by the construction of I-94 through Saint Paul.

Meet 22-year-old Anthony Bradford: once homeless, now working two jobs as a software engineer at U.S. Bank and at Domino's Pizza. He has just become a homeowner thanks to a fully forgivable $90,000 down payment loan from what's known as Saint Paul's Inheritance Fund.

"I just got my first home, ahhhhh," exclaimed Anthony Bradford, receiving applause.

Bradford immediately fell in love with the brick house as soon as he walked inside. "I love how they re-modernized it. I like the spacing," he said.

"What began as a bold idea last year is now finally a reality," said Mayor Melvin Carter, a son of Rondo himself. He has championed the Inheritance Fund program to return wealth and homeownership to low-income families affected by the I-94 Freeway project. This project disrupted the thriving Black community nearly 70 years ago, displacing more than 700 families and erasing an estimated $150 million in community wealth.

"We know that words cannot replace what was lost to the construction of I-94," Mayor Carter added.

With a budget of more than $2.6 million available for the down payment assistance program, more than 500 applicants, including Bradford, filed paperwork for grants in the first few months before the city halted new applications. Bradford promises to make the most of this opportunity.

The city plans to help 35 to 40 homebuyers depending on their needs, but Mayor Carter is optimistic about doing more with the program down the road.