Q&A: Minneapolis public housing chief makes his case for a cut of Minnesota’s big surplus

Date Published: 
March 7th, 2023

From MinnPost:

A Minnesota Senate committee will take up a proposal on Friday to grant $45 million to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority to fix up hundreds of houses that the agency rents to some of the city’s lowest-income families.

Most of the families with children that MPHA serves live in one of these 700 “scattered site” family homes — which, as the name implies, are spread out all over Minneapolis.

With rent in these houses set at approximately 30% of household income, MPHA leaders say the “deeply affordable” units help stabilize vulnerable families. The agency’s research suggests most residents use these houses as launch-pads to get better-paying jobs — and nearly one out of every five families that leave these units go on to purchase homes of their own.

But more than half of these houses are in “poor” condition, according to MPHA’s ratings, with a backlog of more than $31 million in needed maintenance and repairs: roofs that leak, siding that’s deteriorating, furnaces or ventilation systems that need to be replaced. If unaddressed, the agency believes the cost to fix these problems would double over the next five years.

That’s why MPHA leaders want a cut of the state’s multi-billion dollar budget surplus: They want to slash through repairs on these homes — and knock out a significant chunk of an overall $210 million maintenance backlog on all of its properties.

Abdi Warsame, who stepped down from the Minneapolis City Council in 2020 to become MPHA’s executive director and CEO, sat down with MinnPost to discuss why he believes the agency urgently needs this one-time infusion of funding. 

Read Abdi Warsame's interview with MinnPost.

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