MSA to address rental-housing issues

JP Leider

Even as spring semester begins, students quickly realize that fall eventually will come again ” and that means seeking a place to live.

Whether it’s renewing a contract, sticking with a residence hall or venturing into the community to look for housing, students will be faced with a large amount of considerations: price, safety and housing quality, to name a few.

At a meeting today, the Minnesota Student Association will consider a resolution that might ease the decision-making process for students and attempt to address rental-housing issues.

The resolution would call for the co-hosting of a rental housing summit with the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

The resolution says the summit would seek to “proactively address neighborhood issues which will include all appropriate members of the community.”

“It seems like people who are connected to the community around the University have many of the same wishes for their community,” MSA President Emily Serafy Cox said. “They want a strong community, they want neighbors who are friendly and considerate, safe streets, police who respond when there’s crime ” and they want quality and affordable housing for everyone in the community.”

However, Serafy Cox said, the community doesn’t have all those things right now.

“There’s no way to make decisions better for a community than to have the community make those decisions,” she said.

The summit, tentatively scheduled for March 9, would deal mainly with public safety, tenant issues and building a strong community.

GAPSA President Karen Buhr said the idea for a housing summit came after former Minneapolis City Council member Paul Zerby proposed a policy dealing with noisy or “unruly” parties, with which both MSA and GAPSA took issue.

Although that proposed ordinance has since been referred back to committee, Serafy Cox and Buhr said there are unresolved issues in the community.

Buhr said GAPSA will consider a similar resolution at its meeting next month.

At this point, Buhr said, she and Serafy Cox are trying to interest stakeholders, such as certain landlords, police officers, renters and residents, in the summit.

“We’re getting people that are relevant on board. We want this to be something that comes from the entire community,” she said. “If we’re going to address these problems, the entire community has to be involved.”

Kendre Turonie, University coordinator for student and community relations, who has been working with Buhr and Serafy Cox on the potential summit, said that while the summit won’t necessarily resolve tensions between different members of the community, it will get people to work together.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for students to meet together with other stakeholders about the concerns everyone has about the same issues,” she said.

Renter’s guide

In addition to a possible housing summit, MSA is in the final stages of preparing a renter’s guide.

The guide, scheduled for release next week, draws from student responses to the MSA renter’s survey, available on its Web site.

The survey, which received about 1,400 responses during fall semester, allows students to rate their place of residence, be it a University-owned building, an apartment, a house, a greek house or a co-op.

MSA Facilities and Housing Chairwoman Katie White said the guide will help those students looking for new rental property.

“Especially with first-year residents, students are going to find this useful for the next month or so,” she said. “Not only does this help promote students finding a property that works best for them, but if landlords are consistently represented poorly here, hopefully that will serve as incentive for them to do better.”