NEWS RELEASE: December 7, 2018
The Minneapolis City Council, with support from Mayor Jacob Frey, today unanimously passed a resolution “establishing guiding principles in support of investments in public housing and the people who live there.” The resolution was authored by Council Member Abdi Warsame (Ward 6) and Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8).
The resolution affirms the critical role public housing plays in the city’s housing landscape and notes the challenges created by decades of federal underfunding. It expresses the need for the city and MPHA to work in partnership to preserve MPHA’s 6,000 units of public housing with new funding sources and programs. And it defines the protections all public housing residents deserve during this process.
“This resolution makes a powerful statement, and it comes at a critical time,” says MPHA Executive Director Greg Russ. “Public housing provides homes for more than 10,000 of the lowest-income people in the city. Their well-being matters to the whole community, but we’re in real danger of losing these homes over time if we don’t all pull together. This resolution recognizes that we are in this as a team.”
“This is centered on the individuals—our residents, the actual people who live in Minneapolis Public Housing,” says Council Member Warsame. “Senior citizens, immigrants, people with disabilities—the most vulnerable members of our society. They deserve as much protection as possible. Most of these protections are already there at the federal level. But we wanted to make sure they are articulated in a way that is simple, direct, and comes from the city council.”
These protections embodied in the resolution include the right to return to any remodeled or redeveloped property, the right to receive written relocation plans, and the right not to experience rent increases because of redevelopment or improvements. Any preservation and development strategies will also include meaningful resident and community consultation.
The resolution also supports MPHA’s efforts to “stabilize and increase its funding sources” through federal programs such as the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and Section 18. “If we go with conversion, that gives us more stability and access to funds,” says Mary McGovern, MPHA resident and President of the Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council (MHRC). “We already don’t have enough affordable housing for people who need it in this city. These buildings that we do have—we absolutely have to preserve so they are here for another 50 years.”
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By Warsame and Jenkins
Establishing guiding principles in support of investments in public housing and the people who live there.
Whereas, Minneapolis faces a shortage of all levels of affordable rental housing; and
Whereas, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) owns and operates public housing that provides homes to more than 25,000 low income residents in neighborhoods across Minneapolis; and
Whereas, large numbers of these households include seniors, working families, children, immigrants and disabled members of our community; and
Whereas, preserving quality homes for the current and future residents of public housing must be the ultimate focus of any efforts to address affordable housing needs in Minneapolis; and
Whereas, the federal government has for decades underfunded the major repair, renovation, and redevelopment needs of public housing; and
Whereas, preventing the long-term loss of these homes requires a new level of collaboration, community commitment, new financial tools, and a willingness to bring a broad coalition to the table; and
Whereas, the federal government has created public housing conversion opportunities that may allow for an increase in federal subsidies to support the preservation and capital investment needs of these homes; and
Whereas, residents of public housing have certain rights that must be respected during any public housing conversion process; and
Whereas, preserving housing for those most in-need benefits all residents in Minneapolis.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by The City Council of The City of Minneapolis:
That the City of Minneapolis supports public housing and other deeply subsidized affordable housing as an essential part of the housing continuum, as it meets the needs of households that would otherwise have few options in the private market.
Be It Further Resolved that the City is committed to working in partnership with MPHA to preserve, and, when possible, increase the city’s stock of public housing.
Be It Further Resolved that the City supports MPHA’s efforts to stabilize and increase its funding sources through exploration, and implementation where feasible, of federally sanctioned public housing conversion if certain conditions are met as to resident notice, consultation and protection, and the conversion will position the city’s public housing as a permanent affordable housing asset for current and future residents.
Be It Further Resolved that City support is contingent upon meaningful resident and community consultation throughout the planning, design, and implementation process of preservation and development strategies.
Be It Further Resolved that City support is further contingent upon certain resident protections; including the right to be informed; the right to return to any remodeled or redeveloped property; the right to written relocation plans that inform the residents of their rights to return to the property following temporary relocation; reimbursement of relocation expenses; the right to continued representation and funding for legitimate resident organizations; the right to not be re-screened for eligibility (including income, income targeting provisions, criminal background, or credit history); the right to not experience rent increase because of the improvements or redevelopment; the right to have pets return that were registered with MPHA prior to conversion, the right to phased in rent increases where a rent increase is required by federal law or regulation, the right to a grievance process and continued procedural rights relating to lease violations following any conversion.
Be It Further Resolved that the City is committed to becoming a state and national leader in addressing the challenge facing public housing across the country.