Prospect Park townhomes to stay, redevelopment avoided

Monthly meetings will be held about alternative plans for redevelopment.

Elizabeth Smith

Community pushback has persuaded Minneapolis officials to hold off on the redevelopment of area public housing facilities. City officials originally slated a public hearing for Tuesday to discuss the revamp of Glendale Townhomes in the Prospect Park neighborhood, but after receiving criticism from residents and community members, the meeting was canceled, and all reconstruction plans have been postponed for at least six months. Minneapolis Public Housing Authority deputy executive director of facilities and development Emilio Bettaglio said the group has dismissed its original plan to replace the publicly owned townhomes with a privately owned apartment complex that would provide both low-income and market-rate housing. Instead, MPHA will meet with residents and community members once a month until an agreement is met to discuss alternative plans for redevelopment, he said. âÄúWe hear you and want to work with you to find a solution because the problem is still there,âÄù Bettaglio said at a community input meeting last Thursday. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates about $330,000 to MPHA each year to maintain Glendale Townhomes. But because of structural issues in the 63-year-old complex, the funds wouldnâÄôt cover the expected $15 million needed for improvements. âÄúAs a society, we have turned our back on public housing,âÄù Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon said. âÄúThe MPHA has been isolated at almost every funding level.âÄù Gordon said he supports an anti-discrimination proposal introduced by Ward 8 Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden last month that would require all Minneapolis landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers, a federal housing assistance program that allows low-income individuals to pay only a portion of their rent. These vouchers would be provided to displaced Glendale residents if the townhomes are redeveloped. Some residents at last weekâÄôs meeting said finding housing that accepts the vouchers without such an ordinance would be nearly impossible. Director of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Ed Goetz, said landlords participating in the Section 8 program prefer to fill vacancies with residents paying market rate because the vouchers require more paperwork. âÄúThese can become extremely difficult to use in tight housing markets,âÄù Goetz said. âÄúRight now, itâÄôs a pretty tight housing market.âÄù