Congressman Keith Ellison (standing), with a panel of experts and US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro (immediate left).
The discussions on the future of affordable housing was conducted on Friday, October 30th at the Mayflower Church. The purpose of the gathering was to allow community members of Minneapolis, residents, activists and organizers, non profit leaders, and local political leaders to convene with Secretary Castro on talks on quality, affordable housing and access for historically disenfranchised communities.
Minneapolis, MN is one the fastest gentrified cities in the nation. The loss of affordable housing (i.e. public housing and project based section 8) for luxury condos and lofts is not a narrative exclusive to large metropolis cities like New York City and San Francisco. Every year, Minneapolis sees a change in demographics- spaces, apartments, lofts, resources are accessible to those of educated, and whiter, backgrounds.
Race and socioeconomic inequity and access to quality housing were topics of concern brought forth by residents in hopes that a pair of eyes and ears would see and hear them.
Unfortunately, the sentiment of attendees was discontent as questions were took but not addressed by panelists.
Community members come forth to address how gentrification affects their families and communities.
Ladan Yousef of Defend Glendale, a grassroots committee of residents and allies working in efforts to prevent the privatization of Glendale Townhomes, a public housing complex in Prospect Park, by the local public housing agency.
She warns Secretary Castro of the potential threat of displacement of historically disenfranchised families, including refugees from Somalia, if the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) was implemented in her public housing complex.
RAD is a new 'program' of HUD that was enacted in efforts to reinvest in public housing through both public and private debt and equity. This was created in response to the national epidemic of the loss of public housing secondary to decreasing appropriated funds each year for THUD (Transportation and HUD). HUD has a $6 billion backlog for repairs and improvements in public housing complexes nationwide. RAD has been implemented in larger cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Boston, however the implementation of RAD in the rehabilitation phase has led many families displaced from their homes.
Residents and activists throughout the country step forth against the implementation of RAD in their community. Like Ladan, many argue that access to affordable and quality housing is a basic human right that should be invested by the public and not the private sector.
Aurora (right) with her daughter raising awareness about the recent change in ownership of her apartment complex and issues including rent increases that may result in the displacement of nearly 700 families and individuals.
Standing beside her is Evan, a Spanish Advocate and Housing Organizer with HOME Line, a Minneapolis based non- profit that focuses on tenant rights and advocacy.
Community members, organizers and activists, and bureaucrats from the District listen to Secretary Castro's remark of HUD's efforts to improve the current state of affordable housing in Minneapolis.
Aurora and her daughter, and Evan speaking with panelist Mayor Debbie Goettel of Richfield, Minnesota.