Residents concerned about housing revamp

Glendale tenant Abdirahman Mohamed expresses his concerns to Minneapolis Public Housing Authority officials during an informational meeting at Luxton Community Center on June 8.

James Healy

Glendale tenant Abdirahman Mohamed expresses his concerns to Minneapolis Public Housing Authority officials during an informational meeting at Luxton Community Center on June 8.

by Elizabeth Smith

More than 100 local residents gathered at the Luxton Community Center in Prospect Park last week to express growing concern over the potential redevelopment of 63-year-old low-income townhomes.
Glendale Townhomes in Prospect Park, a publicly owned housing property, has yet to face redevelopment, but a growing necessity for repairs might cause that to change if the City Council signs off on the plan in July to tear down the project, according to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
The townhomes were built in 1952 to serve low-income World War II veterans and their families and house 184 residential units in 28 buildings.
Most of the buildings’ original occupants have since left, and the space is now home to many low-income and immigrant families. 
The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is designated about $330,000 each year to maintain the property, but the cost to make repairs could top $15 million, MPHA
Executive Director Cora McCorvey said.
“Due to its age, design and major physical needs, it is quickly becoming obsolete,” said McCorvey, who previously served as the site’s manager for five years.
If torn down, the homes would move from MPHA to a private developer who would build new townhomes. Plans to remodel include tearing down the site and expanding to over 500 mixed-income units over the course of five years. At least 184 units would still serve as low-income housing.
Michelle Montbriand, a 12-year Glendale resident, said she fears building new complexes could make the neighborhood feel unwelcoming.
“We’re very tight knit,” Montbriand said. “We know each other and watch each other’s kids. We don’t want to lose our neighborhood or our homes.”
Montbriand has spoken up as a part of Defend Glendale, a coalition of residents and advocates who want to save the property.

She said she’s aware of structural issues in the buildings, like broken electrical and plumbing fixtures, but Montbriand said a remodel would serve the community better than tearing down the homes.
Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon said he plans to continue attending meetings with residents and MPHA to ensure his residents’ voices are heard.
“I’m very concerned about the repercussions this can have on that community,” Gordon said. “My goal is to see if there’s a pathway to make sure the community doesn’t feel like they’re being shut out.”
Montbriand and other residents at the meeting said they’re fearful privately owned homes could drive low-income residents out of the neighborhood, though Bob Boyd, MPHA director of policy and special initiatives, said federal requirements to offer a minimum number of low-income units would keep that from happening.
“Yes, there will be some changes, and it will most likely be privately owned, but there will be affordable housing, and the owner will not be able to revoke that,” Boyd said at the meeting.
The townhomes would be redeveloped in shifts, so residents wouldn’t all be displaced at once, Boyd said.
The occupants would also receive Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to relocate to rental units comparable in size and equal in rent with the right to return to Glendale when the construction is complete, but residents said they’re worried about being sent to areas with higher crime rates.
Due to a lack of funding to maintain the property, members of MPHA said redevelopment is their only long-term option.
“We didn’t pick Glendale,” Boyd said. “The finances picked Glendale.”
The next meeting for the Glendale Townhomes will be held on June 28 at the Prospect Park United Methodist Church.