Mattie Henderson said she loves her apartment in public housing in north Minneapolis, but it’s running ragged.
Corroding pipes spring mysterious leaks, a stalled project to put a floor indicator above the elevator has left a hole in the wall, and the floors in common areas are pocked concrete after workers tore up the “disgusting” carpet but haven’t yet replaced the old tile at the seven-story building on Plymouth Avenue.
“This building and 41 high-rises operated by [Minneapolis Public Housing Authority] are an important part of infrastructure in our city, and must be taken care of,” said Henderson, who’s lived in the building for nine years. “We need funds to keep these beautiful buildings going.”
Henderson spoke Friday alongside mayoral candidate Tom Hoch, who sounded the alarm over a $127 million shortfall to maintain public housing in Minneapolis and circulated a petition asking U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to restore funding for unmet public housing capital improvement needs.
“How can we talk about affordable housing without addressing the needs of public housing?” Hoch said. “The next mayor must take a much more active role in advocating for public housing at the federal level.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges was one of several big-city mayors to sign a letter last week urging Carson to reconsider a Trump administration proposal to cut $1.3 billion in funding for public housing capital improvements, a move that would exacerbate the funding shortfall Hoch’s petition addresses.
Hoch is one of several candidates challenging Hodges ahead of the Nov. 7 election. The former leader at the Hennepin Theatre Trust was once an official with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) and touted the value of that experience for mayor of a city with 6,000 public housing units.
In the letter to Carson, Hoch said “we face the very real possibility of many of these large structures becoming uninhabitable in the next few years if HUD fails to act in a way that guarantees their integrity.”
He spoke in front of an 84-unit building for senior residents, most of them black. The building is not in dramatic disrepair, but Henderson and two other residents asked the federal government to fund capital improvements so it doesn’t deteriorate further.
“The problems with HUD’s consistent underfunding of the MPHA began long before you were sworn in,” Hoch’s letter to Carson said. “But now as secretary, the burden is on you and your leadership team to right the ship. Minneapolis is counting on you.”