Tag Archives: housing

Privatizing public housing in Minneapolis: the Glendale problems

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. Continue reading

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Obamacare, fair housing and a little jiggery-pokery

image from Supreme Court website

image from Supreme Court website

Three cheers for SCOTUS! Well – two cheers today for the health care and fair housing decisions, and here’s hoping we can give the third cheer soon for a marriage equality decision. The Supreme Court of the United States again upheld Obamacare, and also issued a tremendously important fair housing decision that could have specific application to Twin Cities housing policies. Rightwing Justice Antonin Scalia is so mad he’s almost frothing at the mouth, saying the legislation should be called “SCOTUScare” and condemning the court for “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” Personally, I think that we could use a little more of that jiggery-pokery. Continue reading

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End homelessness with Housing First

We actually can solve homelessness. Projects from Utah to Washington, D.C. have shown that an approach called Housing First works. The Washington Post describes the idea as “a model so simple children could grasp it, so cost-effective fiscal hawks loved it, so socially progressive liberals praised it.” Continue reading

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In St. Paul: building a homeless shelter and making more people homeless

The Dorothy Day Center just launched a campaign to raise $40 million for a new homeless shelter, which should relieve some of the current elbow-to-elbow overcrowding. Ironically, at just about the same time, Como by the Lake apartments announced a move that may make more people homeless.

Ruben Rosario reported recently that the owners of the 99-apartment Como by the Lake complex notified elderly residents that they will end participation in subsidized Section 8 rentals. Residents of 57 of the 99 units currently use the project-based Section 8 federal rent subsidies.

Section 8 benefits both tenants and landlords, making housing affordable to low-income tenants and rentals profitable to landlords. A project-based Section 8 program offers subsidies to developers or owners of multi-family buildings to rent some or all of their units to eligible low-income tenants. These subsidies stay with the apartment. If a tenant leaves, they cannot use the subsidy in another apartment.

A second Section 8 program offers subsidies to tenants, who then have to find a landlord willing to rent to them. These subsidies are portable — they go with the tenant. Unfortunately, the individual Section 8 voucher program has a miles-long waiting list.

In a tight housing market, Como by the Lake can charge higher rents than allowed by Section 8 and make bigger profits. That leaves elderly and disabled tenants facing an expensive housing market, without the assistance they have had until now.

Maybe they can spend more money for higher rents if they eat one meal less per day. Or if they cut pills in half instead of taking the prescribed dosage. If they end up homeless, they can join the people jockeying for floor space at the crowded Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul.

According to the Star Tribune, the elderly are a growing part of the homeless population:

“The campaign comes at a time when agencies across the Twin Cities are scrambling to handle a growing older homeless population. Staff at shelters in Hennepin and Ramsey counties say the age wave has hit and they are not equipped to handle it.”

The first phase of the Dorothy Day Center expansion will offer expanded emergency shelter, but it won’t be ready until some time in 2016. The second phase will include a Connection Center, to provide space for services such as the Veterans Administration, as well as four floors of permanent housing. That phase is planned for 2018. If you want to contribute, here’s the link.

Related post: End homelessness with Housing First

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Just saying no to affordable housing

UPDATED 3/18/2015 – Poor people belong in cities, not in suburbs, and definitely not in mine. Sleep in your car, on a sofa in your cousin’s house, under a bridge — anywhere but next door to me. These messages came across loud and clear in a spate of recent articles focused on housing for low-income people.

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One in seven / Kelliher picks Gunyou / MN mom in Iran, more

“Roughly one in seven of the 52 million households with mortgages” is in trouble, reports the New York Times. That includes homeowners who have missed a payment, as well as those in foreclosure or awaiting eviction.

Mortgage delinquencies continue going up, 9.38 percent of all mortgages in the first quarter of 2010, compared to 8.22 percent in the same time last year. That puts the seasonally adjusted rate over 10 percent for the first time. Continue reading

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Feeling the cold

Shivering your way toward the end of the year? You’re not alone. The Star Tribune reports increasing numbers of MInnesotans appyling for heating assistance, up eight percent statewide over 2008 and 19.5 percent over 2009. Increases in the metro area are even higher: Continue reading

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Homes and homelessness

Despite the relatively good news on the employment front, there are not enough beds in shelters for homeless Minnesotans. In St. Paul, reports MPR, the big two shelter providers are both coming up short. Union Gospel Mission opened a chapel to provide space for an additional 25 men, after months of having to turn away homeless men. Catholic Charities is considering converting a meeting room in an office building to sleeping space for 30 people, with the 250-person Dorothy Day Center at or near capacity. Continue reading

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Locked out in the blizzard

An email from WAMM and the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout tells a dramatic story: In south Minneapolis, during Tuesday night’s blizzard, Leslie Parks arrived home to find the locks changed, leaving them outside in the blizzard. Parks and her mother have been trying to negotiate a way to reverse last May’s foreclosure and stay in their home. According to the press release:

After the start of national call-in week to IndyMac officials, IndyMac informed Leslie, in writing, on November 25 that they were rescinding both the foreclosure and the sheriff’s sale. According to Ms. Parks, “I got an email from IndyMac stating, and I quote, ‘In an effort to work with you and your mother and come to a resolution, we have started the process of rescinding the Trusteed Sale which took place on May 29, 2009.’ They go on to say, and again I quote, ‘You expressed concern that at the end of the redemption period (on Monday November 30, 2009) you and your mother will be evicted from the property. Rest assured, that will not take place due to the rescission of the foreclosure sale.’” …
Bailout lawyers also point out that even IF IndyMac had not come to the table, the next step would be a notice to come to court for eviction proceedings. In no case should the locks be changed. “They did the same thing in May of this year – changed the locks illegally. We had to take them to court and fine them, and we will do it again,” said Deb Konechne, of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout.

According to Linden Gawboy of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, Parks and allies went to court Wednesday morning, and the judge ordered IndyMac to let her back into her house. Negotiations between Parks and IndyMac/OneWest are still on-going, and the next court date is December 16 at 8:30 a.m.

(I tried calling IndyMac to get their version of the story, but no one at their corporate office was authorized to talk about the lockout, or even knew anything about it. They gave me a phone number for “the people they use” for PR — but there was no one answering phones at that office either – only voicemail.)

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NEWS DAY | Leaning on mortgage companies to do the right thing

With record (and rising) number of foreclosures in Minnesota and across the nation, the Obama administration wants mortgage providers to work harder at keeping people in their homes. Prime complaint – mortgage holders aren’t using the federal programs put in place to help homeowners. NPR reports on the $75 billion Making Homes Affordable program: Continue reading

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