Opinion: The MPHA and City of Minneapolis have shown a lack of community engagement

MPHA and the City of Minneapolis have ignored the need to hold community meetings to explain the 2021 “Moving to Work” Plan to area residents.

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Sarah Mai

We ask the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) to hold community meetings on their proposed 2021 “Moving to Work” Plan before Commissioners vote to approve the plan. The vote is currently scheduled for Sept. 23. Unlike in past years, there haven’t been opportunities for the public to ask questions about the plan.

We recognize the pandemic presents challenges, but equitable and authentic engagement ensures that those most affected – including low-wealth communities, people of color, Black individuals, Black Muslims, immigrants, the unhoused, Indigenous peoples, the elderly and/or people with disabilities who are public housing residents – are included in the process. These are the voices we need. If that’s not possible, maybe a pandemic is not the time to implement major new initiatives. Currently, the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota are not holding MPHA accountable. They continue to ignore their responsibility to their public housing residents.

According to an article published in Shelterforce by Sasha Hauswald and Stephanie Reyes of Grounded Solutions Network, “our nation’s housing sector is in crisis and suffers from systemic racial discrimination that runs as deep as in the criminal justice system.” This is not about a lack of funds. This is about a lack of political will to invest in public housing – an unwillingness to keep public housing public, to expand public housing and stop the privatization of public housing. Privatization programs, including Section 18 and RAD, will increase rents and lead to more displacement. This is all done by MPHA and the City of Minneapolis by ignoring the outcry from Black residents leading this movement and by foreclosing on community engagement for the public.

MPHA’s proposed plan contains major new initiatives that will significantly affect the lives of thousands of low-income public housing residents. The draft plan proposes, for example, nearly 3,000 new public housing units for privatization (see page 10) and a broad-reaching new regional public housing agency (see page 24). The stakes are high: There is a pandemic and a housing crisis. More than ever, this is the time to ensure the process is transparent. The pandemic should not prevent authentic community engagement. Public housing residents and the public at large have the right to ask questions about this huge shift in MPHA’s mission that will lead to the end of public housing.

Sincerely,

Defend Glendale & Public Housing Coalition

Community Development Committee, Prospect Park Neighborhood Association

Northside Neighborhood Council (NNC) (including Webber Camden Neighborhood, Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Folwell Neighborhood Association, McKinley Neighborhood Association, Jordan Area Community Council, Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, Harrison Neighborhood Association)

Twin Cities DSA Housing Branch

TC Musicians Against Gentrification

Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement

Beltrami Neighborhood Council

Campaign Against Racism – Twin Cities Chapter