Best of Neighborhood News 7/19: Corcoran tenants rally for renters’ rights, affordable housing

Recently, tenants of buildings in Corcoran organized a block party and rally to advocate for housing rights and the formation of a tenant-owned co-operative building. Tenants renting with The Apartment Shop, owned by Stephen Frenz, experienced neglected building maintenance, including pests like roaches and mice, mold, and indoor winter temperatures as low as 45 degrees that led to health problems. At the rally, the tenants spoke out in favor of rent control and a tenant bill of rights. “Gentrification is happening all over,” said Bonnie Beckel, a Corcoran resident at the block party who lives just south of the apartments. “There’s no question that they’d do a better job of taking care of their buildings.”

Get full details at MinnPost. Amidst opposition from Native nations, Public Utilities Commission approves Line 3 pipeline route

In a unanimous decision, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to approve the Certificate of Need for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, an oil pipeline that would run from Canada through Minnesota. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/29: Minneapolis City Council discusses combating sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

A Minneapolis City Council committee discussed plans with law enforcement and a local nonprofit to combat heightened sex trafficking during the Super Bowl LII on Jan. 18.  As reported by the Minnesota Daily, the Minneapolis Police Department is using undercover operations and building relationships with the hospitality industry to combat the issue. In addition, 12 community organizations formed an Anti-Trafficking Response Committee. “We know sex trafficking occurs. Continue Reading

Rooming Houses Are an Important Part of the Affordable Housing Patchwork

I read almost weekly about the ills of rooming house life.  My google alerts bring me stories of fire, over –crowding, and substandard conditions.  In Minneapolis, zoning codes prohibit new rooming house licenses.  Some of you will be surprised to hear that there are still a few rooming houses out there. I toured a few existing properties a few years ago and found many of the properties worn out, but at full occupancy.  

Alliance Housing gets multiple calls every day from single adults looking for an apartment.  Some are not too keen on  the idea of sharing a kitchen and bathroom with other adults until they learn they’ll have a lease in their name and rent is under $350.  Once they are in our attractive, well-cared for building in Whittier, or one of our properties in the Powderhorn, Phillips, and Central neighborhoods, they quite happily settle in having more control over their housing situation than they’ve had for a long while.  

A profile of our rooming house tenants makes it hard to put a finger on exactly who needs this type of housing.  Our tenants who rent rooms are varied: men, women, working, not working, old, young.  38% of them are working,  45% are disabled and on some sort of government program,  14% are retired and receive a government or VA pension.  The kinds of jobs our tenants have range from parking lot attendant to retail clerk, from fast food and janitorial work to day care.  A few work seasonal landscaping and construction labor jobs.  The most unique employment is a job on the carnival circuit.  Some jobs pay cash.  Most pay no benefits.  

At an average income of $11,734, men and women who want their own place are well matched with the price of rent in an Alliance room.  The average one bedroom apartment in south Minneapolis costs $788 per month.  To pay 30% of one’s income or less for this rent would take a minimum wage person 65 hours per week or a much higher wage at less hours.  Alliance’s rooms are affordable under the same terms for 27 hours per week. Continue Reading

Reduce Affordable Housing Need in Three Steps

This is part 3 of a series on the interaction between the rental housing market and rents. Read part 1, “How I Set Apartment Rents,” and part 2, “Housing Markets? Humbug!“I’ve dedicated the last 15 years of my life working on affordable housing policy. Mostly, I’ve worked where some sort of subsidy helps make it (more) affordable.In this post, informed by what I’ve learned about the scope of our problem and the inadequacy of existing subsidy programs, I’ll share actions and policies that I think could ameliorate our affordable housing problems.It’s common knowledge we have an affordable housing problem. It might be surprising to learn just how bad the problem is. Continue Reading