MPHA Hides Important Information from Elliot Residents Once Again

MPHA intentionally misled residents in the January 8th letter and General Information Notice (GIN) In the letter, MPHA states that their Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) application has been approved by HUD and then on the other  page the GIN letter attached states that Elliot Twins have been “proposed” for participation in the RAD program. So which one is it?  According to the letter sent to MPHA from HUD, that MPHA failed to send to residents and only made available on their website at the last minute), the RAD is application is subject be revoked or amended if the following conditions are present:

A. Any of the contract units were not eligible for selection;

B. The proposed conversion is not or will not be financially feasible;

C. The Owner fails to meet any applicable deadline;

D. The Owner fails to cooperate;

E. there is any violation of program rules, including fraud; or

F. the terms of the conversion would be inconsistent with fair housing and civil rights laws or a fair housing or civil rights court order, settlement agreement, or voluntary compliance agreement.

DG&PHC sent comments to HUD outlining all of the violations MPHA is committing, and the reasons why Elliot Twins does not fit the RAD application. This includes HUD’s conditions listed above under A, B, E & F.

Why did MPHA hide these conditions from residents? Additionally, MPHA received their conditional letter from HUD on December 12th, 2018. Why did they wait almost an entire month before communicating with residents at Elliot Twins and to the public but not actually providing the real letter from HUD? What were they hiding?

In the GIN notice MPHA and HUD state clearly that residents will be receiving relocation assistance for permanent relocation.  This means residents will be displaced and evicted because of the RAD conversion. The HUD letter also clearly states that any undocumented residents will not receive relocation assistance or protections during conversion.

MPHA claims that if residents are displaced and evicted during renovations, they will be able to return to the property once the renovations are complete. However, as the HUD letter states it will take until 2024 to finish privatizing and converting the buildings and by then the vulnerable senior residents will be long gone and forgotten because they will be out of MPHA leases. National research has shown that only 1 in 5 residents return following a RAD conversion. Once the buildings are owned by private developers it is their discretion to fill vacancies however they want. The new owners can screen tenants based on a variety of factors including past history, ability to pay utilities, and legal status. Research from the U of M Law School coined the term  “white-segregated subsidized housing” to describe how private developers in Minneapolis use screening to discriminate against Black and Brown tenants.

In the HUD letter, it is very clear that these units will be privatized and some units will be converted to Section 8 Project-Based housing, or Section 8 Vouchers which the majority of Elliot Twins residents cannot afford, as explained below. MPHA is intentionally deceiving residents about the true function of RAD because they know that residents do not want to be displaced and cannot afford these homes once privatized. Project-Based Section 8 and Section 8 Vouchers are voluntary program that is extremely unstable where a private owner is contracting with HUD and has almost no protection for residents’ rights. Project Based is a voucher attached to the property, and Section 8 voucher is a certificate resident owns to look for rentals from landlords that will accept them. Currently, the Federal Government shutdown has put 1,000 properties of Section 8 housing at risk of eviction because HUD is not paying their portion of the rent. Residents know public housing is more stable than Section 8 because it is pre-funded annually like any other public property. Residents also know that under privatization rents will be raised in several ways.

No one is talking about what will happen to residents during the years of renovations that follow their eviction and displacement. MPHA doesn’t want to talk about this because they know there’s a seven-year waiting list for housing, and they have nowhere for residents to go. During this time, MPHA will purposefully lose track of these residents so when the renovations are complete no one will know where they are and they cannot come back.

However, even if that 1 out of 5 residents does try to come back, we will show you step by step how they will not be able to afford the new privatized Elliot Twins (which will have a new name).

In the letter HUD sent to MPHA on December 12, 2019, HUD states that when the two buildings are privatized and sold to a developer, the cap of the rent they will pay to subsidize for available Section 8 units are the following:

Studio; number of bedrooms                         0 bedrooms

Monthly rent subsidy from HUD                     $577

Utility allowance for water, heat, electricity    $0

One bedroom                                                  1 bedroom

Monthly rent subsidy from HUD                     $715

Utility allowance for water, heat, electricity    $0

Let us break this down

  • The private owner of Elliot Twins will set the rents at market rate based on 60% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) which is what the newly passed 2040 Comp. Plan pushed for.
  • The AMI of the Twin Cities Metro Area is $94,300 based on the majority white wealthy homeowners so 60% to 80% of that are the income earners that private developers want to attract, between ($58,580 to $75,440).
  • The Area Median income for Black residents is $33,436.
  • The yearly income of public housing residents at Elliot Twins is between $9,000 to $14,201.
  • The majority of Elliot Twins residents are Black American, Black Muslims (East Africans), Seniors and disabled folks, most of whom receive $750 a month from Social Security, for a total annual income of $9000. Because they live in public housing, they only pay 30% of their income which is $225 a month including utilities.
  • The Section 8 Project Based Vouchers HUD will pay or subsidize will leave a   one-bedroom costing $715 per month and a studio costing $577 per month with zero allowances for utilities.
  • The average market rate a private developer will charge for a studio apartment is $1014 a month with no utilities, and the average rent for one bedroom is $1,300 with no utilities.
  • A market rate studio rents on average for $1014 a month in Minneapolis, while a former Elliot Twins resident can only afford to pay $225 for rent.  According to HUD’s letter that MPHA hid from residents, HUD will only pay $577 to subsidize a studio. So, if an Elliot Twins resident can only afford $225 for rent, and HUD is contributing $577, that totals to $802. But the landlord is charging $1014 which does not include utilities. The former Elliot Twins resident can’t rent the apartment even with Section 8 because the rent is too high, and they have pay utilities such as heat, electricity, etc. which can be over $200 a month.
  • The average market rate rent for a one bedroom is $1,300 in Minneapolis. According to the letter, HUD’s cap will only pay $715 of this rent for one bedroom. The former Elliot Twins resident can only pay $225 for rent. So, with a resident’s contribution and the HUD subsidy, there is a gap of $360 dollars, not including utilities. In effect, former Elliot Twins residents will not be qualified to go back and rent the apartment. This is displacement and gentrification. This explains why MPHA hid this letter from Elliot Twins.

This evidences how deceptive and dishonest MPHA is to their residents, and the public. MPHA failed to share this letter which clearly shows how public housing will be privatized, displaced and evicted. And, yet, MPHA continues to claim that housing won’t be privatized even though HUD is saying otherwise in this letter. The City of Minneapolis and MPHA are fulfilling Trump and Carson’s HUD agenda against the poor, including Black, Brown, Muslim, Disabled,  poor, and undocumented residents. Minneapolis claims to be a progressive sanctuary city yet the city is furthering Trump’s agenda on all fronts.