City Council approves money

Megan Boldt

Amidst a cheering and jeering audience Tuesday afternoon, the Minneapolis City Council voted to provide a minimal raise in funding for affordable housing citywide.
After a heated discussion, the decision hinged on a $40 million swing in proposed funding. Councilwoman Kathy Thurber, who represents neighborhoods directly south of the University, successfully proposed allocating $10 million toward the housing initiative, beating out Councilman Jim Niland’s $50 million plan.
Joan Campbell, who represents University-area neighborhoods, including Marcy Holmes, Prospect Park, Como, Cedar Riverside, Dinkytown, Stadium Village and portions of Seward and Elliott Park, voted in favor of the $10 million funding.
Community members, including University students and members of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, were outraged and disappointed after the 8-5 vote in favor of Thurber’s plan.
“I am so frustrated,” said Kathy Stolle-McAllister, a Minneapolis resident and member of the political activist group Progressive Minnesota. “With this resolution, they are just digging a deeper hole for themselves. There are no goals written into this resolution.”
University groups said the resolution will simply not improve housing conditions near campus.
“Students are competing in a tight housing market,” said Russell Langley, MPIRG’s consumer affairs advocate. “This resolution will not be helping students at all.”
Council members, however, were split in their attitudes toward Thurber’s resolution.
Councilman Barret Lane felt affordable housing is an issue too large for the city to tackle alone.
“This is a regional problem and needs regional support,” Lane said. “No new taxes will be raised to fund affordable housing.”
Supporters of Thurber’s resolution stressed that the proposed funding is more fiscally responsible than the $50 million plan.
Niland, on the other hand, felt that the housing shortage has reached epidemic proportions.
“Affordable housing is a crisis in the city of Minneapolis,” Niland said. “Unfortunately, we have city officials that are more concerned with funding professional sports stadiums and big corporations.”
Niland also mentioned that the authors of the Thurber bill voted in favor of more than $70 million in funding for the baseball stadium.
Despite the loss, community advocates said they will find other ways to fight for more affordable housing.
Langley said MPIRG will now focus on the state level for this issue and also for tenants rights.
Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton attended the meeting and spoke briefly on the need to push forward and find affordable housing solutions in 2000.
She also provided a reminder for the council members. “This is not a contest, we are here to serve,” Sayles Belton said.

Megan Boldt covers city government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.