The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority has secured $25 million to start long overdue renovations for its Elliot Twins high-rise apartments, with a pledge to avoid displacing any residents.
The Housing Authority announced Monday that the renovation will remodel the downtown towers' 174 units of existing public housing. It will upgrade the electrical, heat and water systems; add air conditioning, fire sprinklers and new exterior insulated metal panels; and make the buildings more energy efficient.
The project also adds 10 disability-accessible units — the property currently only has two — and 6,200 feet of new common areas and amenities like expanded laundry and exercise rooms. The renovations are scheduled to start this month and be complete by late 2021.
Abdi Warsame, executive director of the Housing Authority, said in a news release that with the renovations "we set off to fulfill our essential vision to preserve public housing across Minneapolis." Warsame became executive director of the agency earlier this year.
The Housing Authority provides homes and housing assistance to more than 26,000 people citywide. Some of the oldest high-rise public housing in Minneapolis, the Elliot Twins have been in the Elliot Park neighborhood since 1961. Nearly 80% of Elliot Twins residents are seniors or have a disability and more than 80% are people of color, according to the Housing Authority. The annual median household income for the property is estimated at $10,200.
The agency has previously faced accusations from public-housing advocates who said the renovations would displace tenants. But the Housing Authority reiterated in its announcement that residents would not have to leave while the renovations were being completed, unless they wish.
The renovations are being financed by a combination of partners, including private firms like Bremer Bank, RBC Capital Markets and Hunt Real Estate Capital. The agency opened itself up to the private funding through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which transfers ownership of public housing buildings to a private entity. The private investors qualify for tax credits.
Still, the Housing Authority will contribute about $5 million, manage the building and continue to own the land that the Elliot Twins sit on.
"Protections for current residents, as well as long-term affordability for the lowest-income renters, are guaranteed under multiple layers of federal law, the terms of the city investment, and long-term land-use restrictions including a 99-year ground lease," the agency said.