BY ELINA KOLSTAD
There are encouraging signs on the affordable housing front. On Aug. 10, the city of Minneapolis agreed to send $5 million annually to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), a fivefold increase of the current funding level, for the preservation and production of affordable housing units. This is wonderful news, but the agency has a $229 million backlog in needs that will be difficult to address even with the increased funding. Meanwhile, in June, the state of Minnesota paid off the $377 million bond debt for the completely necessary U.S. Bank stadium, with the understanding that there will still be millions of dollars in operating costs going forward.
Two new affordable housing units are under construction in Seward that are part of a push to build scattered site four- and six-plexes throughout the city. When I wrote about this plan in November of 2021, the expectation was that these units would be built in 2022, but better late than never.
And we still have a serious crisis of the unhoused. We are still years away from being able to provide enough public housing even at the increased rate of funding, if we are able to catch up to our backlog created by years of underfunding and inaction. We need solutions for those in need of shelter now. The city has instead focused on a policy of traumatic encampment demolitions and fencing off large swaths of green spaces, because nothing says successful, top-
tier city like a bunch of tall chain link fences.
There is, admittedly, an ugliness to the encampments. But it’s not the ugliness of the people, the makeshift shelters, the increased litter and drug paraphernalia, or the crime and drug use that follows in their wake. The ugliness is our own selfishness reflected back at us. It is a physical manifestation of the ugliness of a culture that cannot see the humanity in the people suffering in front of us.
Perhaps we could use that stadium our tax dollars funded, and just fully paid off, as an emergency shelter until we can get enough housing built.