Protect Public Housing — An Open Letter to Minnesota’s Elected Officials
To the Offices of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Senator Tina Smith,
On behalf of Defend Glendale & Public Housing Coalition, The Campaign Against Racism (CAR) Twin Cities Chapter is asking our elected officials to urge the Minnesota Public Housing Association to PAUSE the approval of Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA)’s 2021 Moving-to-Work (MTW) Annual plan until they hold a public meeting. CAR Twin Cities Chapter members are a group of dedicated social medicine clinicians and educators that regard safe, affordable public housing instrumental to health and stability.
MPHA is required to hold at least 2 public meetings to collect comments and conduct a public hearing about the MTW Annual Plan. Instead, MPHA had sent letters to the residents announcing a public hearing on August 26, 2020 which also stated that public comments were due July 27, 2020. The letter further mentioned that ‘this years’ informational presentation would be on the YouTube platform. Residents in this meeting were not given an opportunity to engage or ask questions pertaining to the 2021 MTW plan.
Despite multiple demands from Public housing residents and community members, they have not held a single public meeting regarding their plans, virtual or otherwise last year. This is the only year MPHA has gotten away with withholding MTW public meetings which is required before HUD can approve of the annual MTW plan. Coincidentally, this year their plan introduces an effort to privatize much of Minneapolis’s public housing, including half of all their high-rises.
MPHA has ignored residents and allies’ demands and elected officials have failed to hold them accountable. Instead, MPHA has held one public hearing about their 2021 MTW Annual Plan and refused to accept questions about their plans. They ignored resident voices and submitted the plan to HUD for approval without the required public meetings.
MPHA has been allowed by our elected officials and HUD to display a consistent abuse of power. In 2019, five elderly and disabled public housing residents died in a fire due to MPHA’s negligence and they were not held accountable. Currently, contractors who are completing a RAD conversion (privatization) at Elliot Twins (which is now leased to the Royal Bank of Canada) have refused to wear masks. They refuse to wear masks even though the majority of Elliot Twins residents are elderly and disabled and the fact that at least 3 elderly residents have died of COVID- 19 at Elliot Twins.
We are reaching out to the offices of Honorable Tina Smith & Ilhan Omar to commit in action to this urgent matter. We insist that the Call To Action letters from residents are read and phone-zaps which demand HUD to pause the 2021 MTW annual plan until public meetings are held for the residents. Christopher Golden (HUD Regional MTW Coordinator) needs to be contacted and an immediate request for him to pause the 2021 MTW Annual Plan approval until public meetings are held. Also, MPHA needs to submit all the comments from the residents to Christopher Golden in full transparency. Public housing residents are tired of being disregarded and discriminated against. MPHA must be held accountable.
Michael J. Westerhaus