Update: Since approving and publishing the Guiding Principles, MPHA has added a page of frequent Questions and Answers.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) Board of Commissioners has unanimously adopted a set of Guiding Principles for Redevelopment and Capital Investments at MPHA. The document declares the values the state’s largest housing authority will follow as it begins a multi-year process of analyzing its buildings’ needs, conferring with the community, and taking action to reinvest in MPHA’s 6,000 units of public housing.

“We know that talking about redevelopment can bring anxiety for public housing residents, and raises lots of important questions,” says MPHA Executive Director/CEO Greg Russ. “We do have serious challenges we need to take on, given aging buildings and years of inadequate federal funding. These Guiding Principles will underlie everything we do, and allow residents and the community to hold us accountable to our mission.”

The Guiding Principles (available online in five languages at www.mphaonline.org/GuidingPrinciples) include a commitment to inform and engage residents at every stage. They feature MPHA’s intention to avoid permanent displacement of any resident, and a first-right-of-return for any residents affected by work on their home. Above all, the Guiding Principles state MPHA’s commitment that any actions must preserve—and increase, if possible—affordable housing options in Minneapolis.

“The standards we have laid down for ourselves stand in stark contrast to the notion that we are seeking to ‘sell off,’ ‘gentrify,’ or otherwise do anything other than protect badly needed housing for low-income people,” says Russ. “We are at the very beginning of a long planning process—we have no proposal yet in place for any building. But as we do move forward, we intend to do things right.”

The board’s approval of the Guiding Principles follows two months of presentations and Q&A sessions with resident groups, along with public availability of the draft on MPHA’s web site. The final version reflects substantial additions proposed by the Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council. In the coming months, Russ and other MPHA leaders expect to continue gathering with residents and other stakeholders who wish to learn about the Guiding Principles and MPHA’s capital investment process.

Across its 42 high-rises and 900 family homes and townhomes, MPHA estimates $127 million of deferred capital needs—a figure that grows each year. This compares to about $10 million in annual capital funding from the federal government. After approving the Guiding Principles, the MPHA Board endorsed an investment of $1 million from the agency’s reserves to establish a “working capital fund.” This fund will support a detailed analysis of MPHA buildings, and allow MPHA to begin exploring how all available tools—including bonding, low-income tax credits, and enhanced city and state financial support—might play a role in preserving permanently affordable housing in Minneapolis.

Contact: Jeff Horwich
MPHA Communications Manager