In a single November weekend, more than a hundred Glendale residents signed a petition setting out a vision for their community, and making two dozen specific demands for repairs and improvements. The petition is one more step in the ongoing dispute between Glendale residents (and their Prospect Park neighbors) and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, which wants to sell off the public housing development to private developers.
Among the petition’s list of demands, which focused on repairs and maintenance:
- Water leaks in basements (need to be repaired)
- Insufficient windows letting in cold, need to be repaired, replaced, weatherized
- Ice forms inside of the townhomes on cold days/icy windows
- Insulation needed in the walls
- Rodent problem
- Pipes repaired
Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) maintains that repairs and updating would be too expensive, so Glendale has to be sold. Defend Glendale, an organization formed to resist plans to privatize and demolish the public housing townhomes, says the MPHA has neglected Glendale for years. In particular, they point to MPHA use of Honeywell energy savings contract funds in 2009-2011, saying Glendale received low-flow toilets and faucet aerators, while
“… most of MPHA’s public housing sites received ‘building ventilation system redesign’ and high efficiency hot water boilers; Glendale received none of these. Scattered site housing received new thermopane windows, attic insulation, and wall insulation; Glendale received none of these, despite residents’ repeated complaints about and its desperate need for improving the lack of insulation that keeps their units unsafely cold during the winter.”
“When you sit in your living room,” says Glendale resident Michelle Montbriand, “you have to have a blanket on because it is so cold.”
Glendale, now threatened with privatization and demolition, was built in 1952 as “family-friendly” public housing. Affordable housing, in short supply then and now, first served returning veterans and their families. Back then, residents paid 20 percent of their income as rent. (Today, Glendale residents pay at least 30 percent of their income as rent.)
The petition, circulated by Defend Glendale, came after the October 26 Prospect Park Association’s resolution opposing demolition and supporting the continuation of Glendale Townhomes as publicly owned and managed housing. The PPA resolution noted that “the benefits of public housing demolition and their redevelopment accrue within upper income households, while the costs of displacement and instability largely fall on low-income communities of color,” also observing:
“Other public housing agencies, like the St. Paul Public Housing Agency, have worked collaboratively with other levels of government funding and identified creative solutions to successfully rehabilitate similar family public housing, in a financially sound manner, with little disruption to, and with support of, its current renters.”
Ladan Yusuf and Michelle Montbriand, two current leaders of Defend Glendale, resigned in protest from their positions as president and secretary of the Glendale Residents Council last February. They say that many other Glendale residents would be happy to tell me more about their community, their homes, and what Glendale needs. So stay tuned — I’ll have more about this historic public housing project and its current residents in the next month.
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