Summit seeks solutions to housing woes

University, neighborhood and city officials, and local landlords, are expected to attend the event, which MSA sponsored.

Kevin McCahill

The second of two housing summits is planned for tonight, focusing on making sure students have an affordable and safe place to live.

The Minnesota Student Association is sponsoring the summit; the first meeting, held March 27, focused on crime and lack of communication among the University, students and surrounding community. The meeting, at 5:30 p.m. in the President’s Room in Coffman Union, will focus more on tenant issues, said MSA President Emily Serafy Cox.

Minneapolis residents are faced with a lack of affordable housing, which is why the issue is important to discuss, Cox said.

“There are some, but there aren’t enough,” she said. “Often students have to go farther away from campus. Housing around campus is not as good as it should be.”

University, neighborhood and city officials and local landlords are expected to attend.

Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon, who represents the University and surrounding area, attended the March 27 meeting and said he was impressed by the number of people in attendance.

“It gives them a chance to present their desires and wishes for a safe community,” he said. “There are a lot of ideas on how to do that. Part of it is just getting organized in terms of fewer properties getting run down.”

Residents have presented many good ideas during these summits, Gordon said.

Organizers have discussed whether meetings such as this should happen more regularly throughout the year rather than just once, Gordon said.

Students bear some responsibility in ensuring quality housing, Cox said.

“It’s up to them to give a landlord notice if something is broken,” she said. “It’s also the responsibility of landlords in keeping properties affordable.”

Attendees also will discuss the issue of overoccupancy, Cox said.

“Some people say that the ordinance is not doing what it’s intended to do,” she said.

Cox is author of a resolution for MSA to better address housing issues.

“We don’t want too many people living in a house that’s unsafe,” she said. “But we want to make the rule work rather than exclude people from affordable housing.”

Students should attend tonight’s meeting because it’s a chance for them to provide input, Cox said.

“We need to make housing more affordable and quality for students,” she said. “If a student had a negative experience with a landlord, we need to hear about that. We need to know what direction to go.”

Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association Executive Director Melissa Bean said these types of meetings are important.

“Anything that starts discussion is always a good thing,” she said.

Students haven’t brought forward many concerns this year, Bean said, but occasionally students do call about student and tenant issues.

“I think it is really important for students living off campus to be aware of those issues,” she said.

Bean said she isn’t in regular contact with landlords in the neighborhood, but said the association does its best to keep up on all issues in regard to students.