As a Minneapolis resident and housing advocate, I attended the public hearing on the budget Wednesday night. The point of the public hearing was for City Council members to hear what constituents support (and don’t support) in the mayor’s proposed 2019 budget. There were over 130 testimonies delivered, and it was inspiring to see so many Minneapolis residents engage with their city’s budget process.

Residents spoke strongly that they care about affordable housing. One thing is clear: Affordability is slipping away. One-fifth of Minneapolis residents are cost-burdened renters, and conditions have only worsened in the past five years. Since 2012, average monthly rent in Minneapolis has risen by 31 percent. This increase in rents is unprecedented and unsustainable, which is why it is important that City Council members do not move any money away from housing in the mayor’s proposed budget. Every dollar allocated for housing is needed to address the myriad needs facing Minneapolis right now.

The City Council votes on the budget Friday. Council members need to hear from the people they represent that it is crucial they approve all money allocated to the affordable housing trust fund in the mayor’s proposed budget. Call your council member today and encourage them to support affordable housing!

Holly Bolstad, Minneapolis

• • •

On Wednesday night, I addressed the Minneapolis City Council as a resident and staff member of Alliance Housing, which is a member of the Make Homes Happen Coalition. I was joined by Alliance tenants Patrick Presley and Levell Washington.

Our message was simple — there simply isn’t enough housing for very-low-income adults and families in Minneapolis. And what there is has overzealous screening criteria that fail to give someone a second chance who could be a great tenant. Alliance maintains an interest list of completed applications for future openings. It includes 300-plus single adults and 175 families who have waited over a year for an opening in an Alliance apartment. There are few other options.

We commended the city for including $40 million in its 2019 budget for affordable housing production, preservation and tenant protections. We encouraged them to make this an annual, dedicated amount for the long-term future. Stable housing is the foundation of accomplishing just about anything positive in one’s life. Minneapolis has too many people without access to stable housing who struggle to hold down a job, get their kids to school and take care of their health and well-being. This budget is a start.

Barbara Jeanetta, Minneapolis

Congress

Senators praised for vote to get out of Saudi-led war in Yemen

Our Senate is finally turning away from indifference, heartlessness and moral ennui to see the reality of human suffering in Yemen.

That this turning took the death of a good man, Jamal Khashoggi, has been the history of many enlightened changes in our world.

Sandy Hanf, Deephaven

• • •

The Senate decision to bring forward debate on the Yemen war offers hope that Congress may reassert its constitutional authority for declaring war. But the White House is talking about vetoing the resolution to end U.S. involvement. The legal framing then will be that the president may involve our troops in any war he pleases unless a supermajority of Congress rules otherwise. Congress needs to reassert the War Powers Act to restore some semblance of balance of power.

James Haefemeyer, Minneapolis

Safer roads

State leaders need to toughen penalty for distracted driving

I read in the Minnesota section of the newspaper about two careless, thoughtless drivers. One drove 80 miles per hour down an alley, killing a man, and received a 15-year sentence. The other was a woman on her cellphone who ended up killing a woman as she “blew through a stop sign” in Dakota County, but was only sentenced to six months in jail. Granted, I don’t know all the details of the court hearings, but until Minnesota passes stricter distracted- or careless-driving laws, people will continue to “care less” about driving while talking or texting on their phones, often leading to severe injuries or death for other innocent drivers.

Please, Gov.-elect Tim Walz and our Minnesota Legislature, let’s get tougher on these bad behaviors before more people are killed!

Lynn Bergstrom, Maple Grove

St. Paul murals

Augment our picture of history instead of erasing pictures we have

I think it is commendable that the St. Paul City Council and the Ramsey County Board are expected to vote to start the process of commissioning new murals for the council chambers without removing the original ones (“Rethinking 1930s murals in St. Paul,” Nov. 29). Joe Knight, a commissioner in Jefferson County, Ala., where officials grappled with the same issue, was exactly right when he said, “We concluded that we do not have the right to erase history or destroy art.” Congratulations, St. Paul.

Norman Holen, Richfield

The writer is a professor of art.

Affordable housing

Is the Fort Snelling housing plan really affordable for vets, others?

A recent Star Tribune article on the proposed Fort Snelling housing project labeled it as something that will provide affordable housing for veterans and low-income people (“Decades later, housing plan is built,” Nov. 22). That is a noble goal. But if the lowest monthly rent in the project will be around $1,000, we are talking about something other than affordable housing. Instead, we are witnessing another example of for-profit developers getting public and private subsidies to finance another highly profitable housing project that does nothing to promote affordable housing. Unless there is a well-financed government program that helps residents pay the cost of housing, the Fort Snelling project and the Minneapolis 2040 Plan will continue the current paradigm, which is a boon for developers and gentrification but makes affordable housing more and more scarce.

Doug Ellingson, Minneapolis

Make America Metric

Untangling ton and tonne

Letter writer Michael Gottsacker makes some good points regarding the merits of the metric system (“Speaking of the kilogram — make America metric,” Nov. 21). However, a metric ton (tonne) equals 2,204.6 pounds, or about 110 percent of a 2,000-pound “short” ton, not 91 percent, as he states. It is the short ton that is 91 percent of a metric ton, not the other way around.

To add to the ton confusion, there also is the 2,240-pound “long” ton, used mainly in ocean shipping, and therefore sometimes called a “freight” ton.

Robert W. Carlson, Plymouth

FROM THE OPINION EDITORS

The headline on the Nov. 28 editorial referring to tear gas being used on migrants last week at the Mexico-U.S. border called the incident a “new low.” In fact, as several readers have pointed out in letters and the Editorial Board should have reflected in the editorial, the U.S. has used tear gas in border enforcement under previous presidents, including Barack Obama. For more background, see a related Nov. 28 posting from PolitiFact at https://bit.ly/2E2Q3OM.