My daughter came home from college with books given to her by a professor she works with at Chapman University — Prexy Nesbitt who worked with Nelson Mandela against the apartheid regime in South Africa, and alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. He has featured many Black feminists as guest lecturers in his class. The first book in my daughter’s collection that I perused is “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century,” by Barbara Ransby (2018, University of California Press).
The book quotes Ruth Wilson Gilmore, director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, based in New York, and author of the forthcoming “Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition.” She is quoted saying that to move society toward the abolition of inhumanely caging human beings is to get involved with an intensive process of building jobs, housing, new cultural practices, new ways of thinking about work, rights, restorative justice, and community.
The book also quotes Keeamga-Yamahtta Taylor, of Princeton University, and author of “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership,” (2019, University of North Carolina Press): “The challenge before us is to connect the current struggle to end police terror in our communities with an even larger movement to transform this country in such a way that the police are no longer needed to respond to the consequences of that inequality.”
In the last few years, I have talked with many women in Minnesota who work to enact a vision that supports a much healthier whole than we have now.
I recently talked with Acooa Ellis, Senior Vice President — Community Impact, for Greater Twin Cities United Way, who pointed out that when peacetime emergency restrictions are lifted, the change in unemployment benefits will likely coincide with instability in housing safeguards. The population mostly deeply impacted will be Black women with children, who are losing jobs because of the pandemic and the lack of access to affordable childcare and housing.
“This is the population most impacted by evictions,” Ellis says. “It’s a red flag for me, very much top of mind — the impact of compounding societal challenges on education outcomes for kids who are already behind in access to opportunities.”
Other advocates in housing that we have been learning from:
The governor’s 2018 Minnesota Housing Task Force report noted that the state needs to create 30,000 affordable housing units each year until 2030 in order to meet the demand. How will we do that?
Its working group recommendations included many angles that employees, advocates, policy makers, donors, and the general public can support:
Minnesota Women’s Press will offer a legislative roundup prior to the next session, including bills that support economic strength. We will include ways to learn more and take action.
In the meantime, offer suggestions in the Comments below of engaged organizations, specific action steps, or policy support you have taken on behalf of the affordable housing issue — including pandemic-related protections — so that others can find ways to participate.
Chalk up a victory for some low-income residents in Brooklyn Park.
Diana Walker said she was informed that no Housing and Rehabilitation Authority (HRA) leases, such as hers, would be renewed. HRAs, also known as Section 8s, are rent-subsidy certificates issued by the federal government to low-income people. Those who qualify for subsidies can take their certificate wherever building managers will accept them. Walker learned that the landlord cannot evict the residents or refuse to renew their leases without ‘just cause.’
So Walker talked to other residents and found others who were “Section 8” tenants. Most were single mothers, and a few were differently abled. They too apparently had been told their leases wouldn’t be renewed. Like her, they wanted to stay at Willow Brook.
During the next few weeks, the HRA residents got to know each other, gathered more information and contacted others who could help, including a Hennepin County Commissioner and State Senator. By early June, residents had met twice as a group and organized a meeting they invited representatives of the building management to attend. But no one came. Instead the company’s vice president sent a statement saying the company never intended to evict any HRA residents and that management makes no distinction based on who pays the rent.
“We went beyond what the management expected us to do,” Walker said.