Best of Neighborhoods News 06/19/2019: Minneapolis CAN stop landlords from screening out Section 8 tenants

Minneapolis CAN stop landlords from screening out Section 8 tenantsA Court of Appeals ruling last Monday now prevents landlords in the city of Minneapolis from rejecting applications from tenants with Section 8 vouchers, a federal housing assistant program. It is what many are hailing as a significant step towards advancing affordable housing amidst the city’s ongoing housing crisis. The ruling favors the ordinance that was originally passed in 2017; and it overturns a Hennepin County judge’s ruling made last year that struck down the ordinance after a cohort of landlords contended with it. The recent appeals court ruling now allows the city to continue to enforce the ordinance to ban unscrupulous screening practices that discriminates against recipients of Section 8 rental subsidy vouchers. “Today’s court decision is a victory for Minneapolis families who need homes and for advocates for increased access to low-income housing throughout Minneapolis,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 06/11/2019: Roxanne Anderson leads the charge for Minnesota’s first LGBTQ center

Roxanne Anderson leads the charge for Minnesota’s first LGBTQ centerMinnesota is one of six U.S. states currently without an LGBTQ center, though there is an already-existing hub of LGBTQ-focused organizations in the Twin Cities. But in about three years, in the navel of Minnesota, this will change. Founder of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, RARE Productions and Cafe SouthSide, Roxanne Anderson is leading the charge to build what will become the state’s first LGBTQ center in the Twin Cities, what Anderson envisages will centralize LGBTQ resources and more into a physical, collective location. “[Queer organizations] all pay a variety of different rents to different landlords who aren’t queer, who aren’t voting for us, who aren’t putting any of that money back into the community,” Anderson explains. “So how can we work collectively as queer organizations to build our own equity? Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 06/05/2019: Landlords push back on Minneapolis proposal to limit tenant screenings

Landlords push back on Minneapolis proposal to limit tenant screeningsA proposed ordinance by the Minneapolis City Council is generating the criticisms of landlords across the city. Championed by Council Members Lisa Bender and Jeremiah Ellison, the ordinance is set to change how landlords screen prospective tenants. Its aim: to improve accessibility to the city’s housing system and to address the growing racial disparities borne out of the city’s affordable housing crisis. The ordinance would prevent landlords “from rejecting applicants with an insufficient credit or rental history” and those “who have committed crimes that are no longer illegal in Minnesota.”

What will become of the ordinance remains to be seen, as a public hearing on it will be set for later this summer. For more, read Bring Me The News. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 05/29/2019: Rep. Ilhan Omar introduces bill to ease path for mobile home residents to buy their parks

Rep. Ilhan Omar introduces bill to ease path for mobile home residents to buy their parksFrank Adelmann was a resident, of many, evicted from Lowry Grove, a mobile park in the city of St. Anthony that was home to nearly 100 families. Days before the park’s closure in the summer of 2017, after the property was sold for $6 million the year before, Adelmann took his own life. Real estate developers moved forward with a rapacious plan to redevelop the 15-acre mobile home park. But as recent as early April of this year, the city of St. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 05/21/2019: UMN student government reaffirms push to rename campus buildings

UMN student government reaffirms push to rename campus buildingsThe Minnesota Student Association released a letter in the wake of a decision that came after nearly a year-long contention over four University of Minnesota campus buildings named after figures with racist, anti-semitic pasts. The state university’s governing body, the Board of Regents, voted 10-1 against the renaming of Coffman Union, Coffey Hall, Nicholson Hall and Middlebrook Hall, names which go as far back as 1851. In pushing back against this decision, the MSA-issued letter reads, “We strongly believe that renaming is the first step of reckoning with our University’s [history]. That is why, to us, renaming is a when, not an if.” MSA will meet with the newly-appointed regents, as well as the incoming University President Joan Gabel, to continue conversations about renaming. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 05/15/2019: ‘Missing Middle’ housing pilot program

Wanted: ‘Missing Middle’ housingThe city of Minneapolis’ draft plan, Minneapolis 2040, includes a currently dubbed “Missing Middle” pilot program. The pilot will finance the cost-effective development of affordable housing inside new 3-to-20 unit buildings. Its aim, among other things, is to provide an important housing stock to meet the local housing needs of “single people making $32,000 or families making $45,000, the area median income.” The pilot program derives from the Minneapolis 2040 plan, “which would allow triplexes citywide and concentrate multistory development along transit corridors.”

While the plan has not yet been formally adopted, city officials are moving forward with an allocation of $40 million towards affordable housing, $500,000 of which will launch the “Missing Middle” pilot. The city is currently collecting feedback on the pilot, and will vote on its specific guidelines in June. Check out the story on Southwest Journal. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 05/08/2019: Bde Maka Ska is Lake Calhoun again, appeals court rules

Bde Maka Ska is Lake Calhoun again, appeals court rulesOver one year ago, along with the support of the Hennepin County Board, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr reverted a Southwest Minneapolis lake to its original Dakotan name, “Bde Maka Ska,” meaning “white earth lake.” The lake was named after then-Vice President John C. Calhoun, a proponent of slavery and eventual ideologue of the Confederate south. Many took solace in the strides that this symbolic moment represented in the larger efforts in the country to remove Confederate iconography and other merchants of hatred from public space. But on April 29 of this year, Minnesota’s court of appeals may have undone this when it ruled that Commissioner Landwehr lacked authority to rename the lake. The three-judge panel found that “only the Legislature can change the name of lakes that have been in state records for more than 40 years.”

Read the full story on Southwest Journal. Minnesota House Passes Measure to Create Hmong Veterans DayApril’s end was marked by more than just the hopeful bromides about spring’s arrival in Minnesota and the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 04/23/19: “Bipartisan support, disagreement on funding” in the push for more teachers of color

“Bipartisan support, disagreement on funding” in the push for more teachers of color Recent budget proposals have fallen short of the lofty $80 million called for by a coalition to be spent on the Increase Teachers of Color Act. Indeed, the support for more teachers of color has received continued bipartisan support, especially at a time when “a third of Minnesota students are now children of color.”

One of the impetus behind this bipartisan push harkens back to a law passed in 2016 requiring “school districts to evaluate their teacher pool with the goal of reflecting the diversity of their student bodies.” This was part of the state’s effort to address education gaps. At the moment, the House DFL budget has dedicated $37 million over the next two years, while Governor Tim Walz has dedicated $16 million and the Senate has remained divided over funding for the program. A hurdle to overcome, as Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker says, is to invite “the Senate to come to the table to find some common ground with us.”

For more, read the story on MinnPost. Paige Reynolds diversifying the Minnesota Opera and its audiencePaige Reynolds, as a Black, queer woman and advocate for the classical arts, is more than just Minnesota Opera’s marketing associate. Continue Reading

Municipal IDs could shape the future of immigrant rights in Minneapolis

A new form of identification –  municipal identification – will soon be implemented in Minneapolis. It is possibly a life-changing move for thousands in the metro area. Municipal identification is not a nascent thing, but rather a local, albeit legal identification that’s taken hold in large and small cities across the country, from Los Angeles to New York City and even to Northfield, Minnesota. On just a single page on the city of Minneapolis’ website, municipal IDs have certainly become part of the political lexicon, after nearly a decade of grassroots advocacy. The page begins with the declaration that, in order to show we are “One Minneapolis,” municipal IDs will “further advance the City’s racial equity goals.” The IDs, the page explains, “will connect Minneapolis residents to services, programs and benefits, regardless of immigration status, homelessness or gender identity.”

That the use of IDs now stand to be codified into law comes on the heels of years of hard work by a broad coalition of immigrant activist groups and community organizations collaborating with the city’s Neighborhood and Community Relations. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhoods News 4/09/19: The Prairie Island Indian Community wants net-zero emissions, and they may receive $46.2 million in funding

The Prairie Island Indian Community wants net-zero emissions, and they may receive $46.2 million in fundingJust southeast of the Twin Cities by about 45 minutes, abutting the Mississippi River, is one of the Mdewakanton reservations on Prairie Island in Red Wing, Minnesota. The tribe that calls the island home also shares a border, strangely enough, with Xcel’s nuclear plant and a cache of its radioactive waste. The facility, so precariously located just down the river, was borne out of an arrangement stipulating that Xcel must “set aside money in a state fund to develop renewable energy.” That fund has since reached about $327 million, but none of it has yet been invested in Prairie Island

So, as recent as 2018, residents set out to change just that, to finance their plan to achieve net-zero emissions and wean the island off nuclear power. In his 2019 budget plan, Governor Tim Walz has proposed allocating about $46.2 million over three years to the tribe. But currently, partisan disagreements abound over how to properly fund what many in the Legislature consider the state’s fight against climate change. Continue Reading