The latest in the Glendale Public Housing battle: Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is organizing a resident council. That is, the landlord is organizing a tenant council, which is pretty much the same as the fox guarding the chicken coop.
According to Defend Glendale Townhomes, the notice of a Monday afternoon (December 14) meeting was delivered on Friday afternoon (December 11.) Monday’s meeting is set for 1 p.m., further disempowering every working resident of Glendale Townhomes. Defend Glendale Townhomes asks:
“Why would MPHA do this while for three years they purposefully and successfully fought against creating an independent resident council in Glendale to advocate for Glendale residents that tried to uncover the hidden plans to demolish Glendale Townhomes. This is similar to how they are fighting, and trying to co-opt Defend Glendale Campaign now led by all Glendale residents to preserve and protect our homes. MPHA is public landlord so they should not have any control over resident councils, or their affairs because it is a conflict of interest and a violation.”
“With average apartment rent in the Twin Cities at a record-breaking $1018 a month, Minneapolis Public Housing plans to send 184 families out looking for new places to live. That’s just one of the problems with the Minneapolis plan to knock down Glendale public housing and replace it with 550 new units that will mostly rent for market rates.”
Glendale Townhomes need repairs. MPHA doesn’t want to repair: the Prospect Park location, already valuable for its proximity to the University of Minnesota and the Mississippi River, got even more valuable with the completion of the Green Line. One new high-rise, high-rent building after another has been built along University Avenue over the past two years. Now MPHA wants to sell Glendale to a private developer, which would mean construction of 550 units to replace the current 184 units, and mostly high rents instead of the current publicly subsidized housing.
MPHA says that residents would get Section 8 vouchers to move elsewhere during construction and that 184 units of subsidized housing would be preserved in the new development. That means:
- Residents would be left seeking landlords somewhere in the metro area who would actually accept Section 8 vouchers, which most landlords refuse to do.
- More than half of the 600 Glendale residents are children. Moving means uprooting the families and children from their schools, friends, and neighborhood support system.
- The new housing would be multi-story, rather than the lower-density townhomes that now foster community among the residents.
- Any families who actually move back after the construction period would find themselves a small minority, missing many of their current friends and neighbors, outnumbered and outpowered by the wealthier majority of new tenants.
To hear what residents say, take a look at the YouTube video above.
Glendale residents have already suffered through one meeting fiasco sponsored by MPHA. At that November 12 meeting, reported Elizabeth Showalter, an observer and U of M graduate student in urban planning:
“After about 30 Defend Glendale residents walked about, between 9 to10 residents from Glendale and 25 majority MPHA staff, officials, and some residents from Prospect Park, and other observers [remained].
“Participants were asked to complete several tasks in their table groups. None of the activities allowed for the possibility of keeping Glendale the same. The resident report backs were not translated for the other residents. Several groups mentioned that when they were given a choice between 6 potential ways their development could look, one of the choices should be what it looked like now. Residents stressed the importance of having their own yards and maintaining the density. Residents shared much more that they wanted to stay the same about Glendale than change. The few residents that remained supported renovation fixing, repair, not redevelopment.”
Meeting with the Defend Glendale group after s useless meeting with MPHA. Need an audit of that agency. pic.twitter.com/a3GLqf16cb
— Phyllis Kahn (@PhyllisKahn) November 13, 2015
What you can do
You can follow the controversy by liking the Defend Glendale Facebook page.
You can support Defend Glendale Townhomes by contributing to their modest ($500) end-of-year goal.
And for a graphic analysis of the issues involved, take a look at this PDF, published by Defend Glendale and the Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing.