About 50 demonstrators staged a vigil on Tuesday outside the home of Minneapolis landlord Stephen Frenz as part of a weeklong series of protests by renters and advocates taking place locally and nationally.
Protest leaders detailed a series of problems they said they’ve endured as tenants, including heating problems, faulty electrical wiring and plumbing overflows.
Sprinklers were turned on in an apparent attempt to scatter protesters as they rallied on Frenz’s front lawn on East Harriet Parkway in Minneapolis.
“We’re not scared of water,” one speaker told the crowd. “We’ve seen worse.”
Frenz is under fire from tenants who cite poor conditions in some of his apartment complexes. He faces revocation of all his rental licenses by the city of Minneapolis over allegations he failed to report that banned landlord Spiros Zorbalas still has a major stake in his properties.
Frenz did not immediately return a reporter’s phone call Tuesday.
Protesters also held another demonstration at Nexus Real Estate in Brooklyn Park to protest rent increases and evictions in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood.
Another demonstration is planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday outside St. Paul City Hall where a hearing is being held on zoning at the former site of the Ford truck plant.
“We will be urging more affordable housing on the Ford site,” said tenants organizer Jennifer Arnold of Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice).
“The whole idea is that we are in a renter state of emergency,” said Arnold. “Since the year 2000, the number of people renting [locally] has gone up a lot, and 50 percent are cost-burdened by rent, which means they pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. It means less money investing in schooling and all things that families need to invest in and thrive.”
On Friday, protesters plan a rally at 10 a.m. in Room 41 at St. Paul City Hall to talk about the need for renter protections, and a rally at 2 p.m. in the rotunda of Minneapolis City Hall, calling for rent control.