Apartment buildings in Corcoran, especially in the Lake Street corridor, are in rough shape. Tenants who request repairs and basic maintenance in their building are being ignored by bad landlords, many of whom prey on vulnerable tenants as a way of doing business. The City of Minneapolis has the authority to inspect and order repairs in response to tenants’ complaints, but too often City inspection policies and practices only serve to empower a bad landlord while leaving tenants frustrated and living in substandard housing.
Our staff have been organizing tenants in some of our most distressed apartments. Tenants are speaking up, taking action, and getting repairs and improvements made. At the same time, we’ve built awareness and action by neighborhood partners in the Powderhorn Park and Central neighborhoods along Lake Street, who share many of these same tenant concerns and bad landlords. Together, we’ve made this issue a top priority of the Southside United Neighborhoods (SUN), our ongoing collaboration of 7 neighborhood organizations representing 11 neighborhoods. In January, SUN leaders met directly with our 4 City Council members to present findings of our recent tenant organizing work and our concerns about City inspections policy and practices.
The council members, including our 9th Ward representative Alondra Cano, listened and responded to our concerns and asked Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde, the City’s new Director of Regulatory Services, to begin meeting directly with SUN leaders to work on changes to inspections policy and practices. SUN had a productive initial meeting with Rivera-Vandermyde and her staff in February, and we’re already changing the way the City does business in order to place a high priority on the concerns and needs of our most vulnerable tenants. Rivera-Vandermyde has expressed interest in meeting directly with concerned tenants in their apartments to see first-hand some of the maintenance issues and hear how they’ve been impacted.
Do you have a concern about your apartment or your landlord? Please contact Ross Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-724-7457. You can also call the Free Tenant Hotline (612-728-5767) run by nonprofit HOME Line, another key partner in our work. To get involved in supporting our ongoing Tenant Organizing work, please contact me at email@example.com or 612-724-7457.
The Tenant Organizing work is part of a 3-plank Policy Agenda selected by the Southside United Neighborhoods for 2014. Other policy priorities including improving City inspections processes and organizing for more representative and transparent Minneapolis Park programming, staffing, and decision making. Watch the Corcoran News for future updates on SUN’s work and ways to get more involved, or just give me a call.