Hasan: Housing is a human right, but we don’t treat it that way in Minneapolis

The most vulnerable communities in local public housing high rise apartments Elliot Twins should be consulted in the restructuring process.

Aleezeh Hasan

The Elliot Twins Apartments are public housing units with hundreds of residents. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) is responsible for Elliot Twins’ funding. Restructuring is coming from Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), according to Star Tribune reporting. Although RAD is meant to improve and renovate the building, local activists say it could lead to gentrification and the displacement of citizens. 

The MPHA and RAD cannot move forward with renovations without consulting residents. Some of the residents living in Elliot Twins are elderly, come from East African backgrounds and do not speak English, as I witnessed during a Defend Glendale and Public Housing Coalition meeting. 

As demonstrated by some complaints raised during a protest last August, there are language barriers. When presented with documents and asked to sign, some residents aren’t able to to understand what they are agreeing to. 

The injustices taking place against the elders and immigrants motivated local activist Ladan Yusuf of the Public Housing Coalition to step forward. When the Glendale Townhomes went through a similar threat in 2014, the Public Housing Coalition was formed as a way to stand up for justice and vulnerable communities. 

Yusuf and residents of Elliot Twins held a meeting last Friday to discuss the latest draft of an MPHA document. It was meant to be a relocation plan with seven points on how residents would be protected and not displaced. The phrase, “to the maximum extent feasible,” can be interpreted as there is no guarantee that MPHA will thoroughly aid residents during potential building renovations. 

Housing is a human right and the people within public housing need to be protected. When it comes to the basic need of housing, more people need to make an effort to protect their own communities. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included numerous inaccuracies. It has been updated to reflect the characterization of RAD, the extent to which MPHA has reached out to residents, and the possibility of evictions. Additionally, a section was removed detailing what local officials didn’t attend the meeting as the information couldn’t be corroborated.