Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cash-Lacking Housing Authority's Proposal To Unload Aging, Deteriorating Public Housing Complex For Demolition By Private Developer Triggers Protests From Low-Income Tenants Fearing Mass Eviction

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder reports:
  • Residents of Glendale Townhomes told Minneapolis city council members in no uncertain terms that they do not intend to become the next victims of gentrification. “We are not moving out. Repair our homes,” read numerous signs.

    About 30 residents and their supporters delivered 1,000 signatures to the council meeting on March 30, demanding their homes be repaired and their community be preserved, not demolished. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), which owns the 64-year old historic public housing complex, says it doesn’t have the funds to renew the buildings and has proposed selling the property to private developers.

    Glendale lies one block south of the University Avenue Green Line in the Prospect Park neighborhood. Developers have been building market rate and luxury apartments along the line and see the 12 acre, low-density townhouse complex as prime real estate.

    Proposed development options call for demolishing the 184 townhomes and replacing them with high-density market rate housing. The MPHA says the project would include 184 subsidized units for existing residents to return to after construction is complete. Residents contend that public housing communities once dispersed never come together again.

    Residents spoke about how they have become a community across languages and nationalities, and told the city officials how much the location means to them. “We love our neighbors,” said one young speaker at the rally before the council meeting. About 300 children live in the community and attend neighborhood schools. Public transit makes it easy for residents to get to jobs, medical appointments and colleges.

    Residents took their two-year long battle to the council to appeal for their support to preserve the existing public housing and save Glendale. City Council member Cam Gordon, who represents the area, hesitated to say what proposal he supports, saying at this point he sees his role as one to “facilitate a process.”

    MPHA promises to give residents Section 8 housing vouchers, but as organizer Ladan Yusuf contended, it is an empty promise when there are 12,000 people on the waiting list for vouchers and few landlords in Minneapolis willing to accept them.

    What is happening to Glendale is happening all over the city,” she said. “It has come to the point where land is worth more than human beings,” she added.

    Resident concluded their address to the city council with a chant echoing Yusuf’s point: “Glendale for the needy, not the greedy.”

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