2021 Minneapolis City Council Housing Questionnaire: Ward 5

A coalition of local organizations sponsored this questionnaire to help voters understand where each candidate stands on issues that shape whether every person can find and afford a home in Minneapolis.

We collectively submitted, refined, and selected these questions and invited campaigns of all candidates to respond. We will continue to accept responses and thank those who have participated. Their responses are published verbatim.

The only party holding caucuses for Minneapolis races is the DFL. For more information about participating in the Minneapolis DFL Caucuses in April, see minneapolisdfl.org/. For information on the 2021 November elections, see https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/calendar/.

Sponsors: Envision Community; IX (Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia); Neighbors for More Neighbors; NRRC; Wedge LIVE!; Zacah 


Candidate responses: 

  • Cathay Spann: no response
  • Elijah Norris-Holliday: responded
  • Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: responded
  • Kristel Porter: responded
  • Victor Armando Martinez: no response

Q1: In a city where more than half of people rent, what housing policies would you focus on to ensure that every Minneapolis resident has a safe, stable, affordable home?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: [Statement from Elijah Norris-Holliday:] To whom it may concern,

Thank you for reaching out to our campaign to gauge our stance on the current housing crisis, not only plaguing Minneapolis but the entire state of Minnesota. I believe that anytime you have hundreds of residents living in inhumane housing conditions like we are experiencing in the tent communities, astronomical rental prices, and limited homeownership pathways, you have a problem.

The elected officials’ responsibility is to inquire about where the funding for affordable housing is going and how residents benefit from housing development—a fundamental responsibility often neglected and ignored. Additionally, many other stakeholders are accountable for ensuring grant dollars provided from HUD, LIHTC, and state funding programs are adequately used to promote affordable housing and economic development in our communities. However, there is a lack of accountability for the elected officials and developers receiving these benefits.

Before my campaign can address your questions in the questionnaire, we request an interview to discuss who is responsible for providing equitable housing opportunities to our residents and why they have not been held accountable for providing that service. Please respond if you want to engage in a virtual conversation about this issue.

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: In my first term, I prioritized housing access and housing policy by authoring several key ordinances and leading on several new innovative departmental policies and programs.

First, on the ordinance side, I worked alongside Council President Bender to pass two key tenant protections. Limited Look-back for criminal, eviction, and credit history, and a Security Deposits Cap to prevent exorbitant upfront cost for folks seeking new housing.

I worked with Council Member Cunningham to pass Tenant Relocation Assistance and changes to the Emergency Repair Board, to offer faster relief for tenants experiencing critical livability and maintenance issues.

I worked with Council Members Schroeder and Gordan to pass the Intentional Community Cluster Developments ordinance to allow for the building of “tiny homes” or other unique structures that could contribute to more affordability and help address homelessness.

Currently, I’m co-authoring three other proposed housing ordinances including a city-wide zero lead poisoning plan, right to legal counsel for tenants facing housing court, and providing tenants the opportunity to purchase the buildings they live in. I’m also co-authoring a proposed ballot measure that would put the question of rent stabilization to Minneapolis voters, and I’ve given notice along with Council Member Gordon to pursue Just Cause Protection and Pay or Quit ordinances.

Departmental policies I’ve worked to pass include the Renters First policy, which prioritizes tools like Tenant Remedies Actions (TRAs), and prioritizes the health and dignity of renters while still holding negligent landlords accountable. The traditional practice used to prioritize the revocation of rental licenses or the condemnation of buildings without consideration for the displacement of residents.

When the tenants of the Mahmood Khan portfolio were facing imminent displacement, I worked with tenants to pursue two pathways towards housing stability. One was to create the Emergency Stabilization Pilot Program, which saw the City purchase eight single family homes and one duplex. Nearly all ten units are currently occupied by tenants from the Khan portfolio. While the units are still currently owned by the City, the hope is to eventually transition ownership to the tenants.

The other pathway involved partnering with the City of Lakes Community Land Trust to purchase six homes directly from the Khan portfolio. All of the original tenants still occupy those homes.

Lastly, I’m working with staff to create a “Right to Return” policy that will give preference to people who have been displaced from a particular neighborhood/area and want to come back to rent or own.

In my second term, I hope to finish the work I’ve started.

Kristel Porter: I want to begin by saying I have lived my whole life in North Minneapolis. I am a single parent with two adult daughters, a ten-year old son, and a granddaughter. I have experienced homelessness myself as a teen mom. I now own a small duplex and its affordability has given me my first experience with housing security. 

The Minnesotan and American model of residential neighborhoods with mainly single-family homes, very limited public transportation, highways, sprawl, big-box retail, and very little accessible by walking or biking is not remotely sustainable from environmental, economic or health perspectives. And because there is a strong correlation between race and poverty and the Twin Cities always topping the list for racial disparities, our policies that concentrate poverty are de facto racist. I love the innovative, cooperative, intentional work of the Envision Community. I will work with you to support developing tiny home projects and ameliorate NIMBY opposition. I admire the courageous work of IX in empowering renters and organizing against predatory landlords and management companies. I appreciate the YIMBY energy of Neighbors for More Neighbors. I love the work of NRRC, I served on its board, and continue to work on many of their initiatives. Wedge Live does great work educating the community and taking activist positions. And ZACAH is an incredible organization that has provided so much support and love and advocacy for our neighbors in encampments and people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Thank you, all.

I want to work together with you and others for a radical reimagining of housing as a human right and long-term community wealth building as a non-negotiable. Minneapolis needs to have a heavier hand in supporting home ownership, local ownership, and discouraging housing speculation by national and international investment firms, that harms our communities. Groups like yours, like Envision Community – that are intentional citizen-led movements – will bring the reforms we need. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the whole city. The 5th Ward of Minneapolis was a planned slum, and the historic racist policies impact us to this day and we need solutions that are specific to our Community.

The “affordability = rental” argument is something that perpetuates inequality, systemic racism and denies poor people any option other than renting when in reality, the 2040 plan called out how many POC were denied the ability to grow generational wealth, so any policy that ONLY promotes affordability as rental is promoting more of that SAME inequity that the comp plan decried.

Q2: Do you support rent stabilization, just cause protection, pay or quit, city-funded legal services for those facing eviction, and other tenant protections? How will you work to pass these policies?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: Yes, I support these policies. I am currently authoring/co-authoring many of them, but I see room to do more. For example, as the city (and country) emerge from the current economic devastation, ordinances like Tenant Opportunity to Purchase will require City financial support to be most effective, and departments like Regulatory Services will need to be funded accordingly in order to fully meet the aspirations put forward by the Renter First Policy.

Kristel Porter: I support any action that prioritizes the needs of our residents, 44% of whom are currently cost burdened.

Here are several ways to provide people with stable housing:

Allow them to have choice – to own or rent….whether it means staying in the neighborhood they are currently in or moving elsewhere (hopefully in our city still), we need, as a city, to create avenues of choice for people. The City of Minneapolis has made policy choices that allow outside investors to buy single family homes in my neighborhood and maintain or convert to rental properties.

We have seen an 8% decrease in home ownership vs. rentals in just the past 3 years.

Since renting is seen as the dominant means of providing affordable housing, then the best way to provide stable housing in the rental market is to promote policies that reward good landlords, and adopt policies that get rid of the bad landlords. Offering assistance to tenants is needed, and is available in multiple formats.

 I want more for our communities. How about being proactive and creating places for people to live where they are wanted and appreciated? Instead of just making another stick to beat landlords with (since the bad ones seem to keep doing crappy things despite everything the city has come up with so far), why not finally create a “carrot.” Promote policies that support good landlord behavior.

Long-term Community Wealth building is one of my criteria for good policy. Why not create housing policies that encourage local ownership of rental opportunities? Why can’t Northsiders be landlords on the Northside? Why don’t we create systems to foster that kind of investment in our communities that helps the tenants, but also provides stability and generational wealth for the people who call the northside home already?

Q3: Encampments of unhoused people have become common on public land in Minneapolis in recent years. What will you do to protect the people who see encampments as their best housing option, to connect them to a safe and stable permanent home?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: The proliferation of encampments, and handling them ethically, is one of the greatest challenges the city faces. There is currently an encampment in my ward, and my first priority in addressing it was to build relationships with encampment residents. This has allowed me to be in dialogue with residents, and learn about their goals and struggles. While I don’t have a decision-making role in setting encampment eviction dates, (that authority lies with the Mayor’s office), and although the siloed approach of the City means I am not often not even notified of eviction dates, the direct line of communication I’ve fostered with the residents has allowed me to intervene on short notice as a mediator.

While the soil on this particular site is very toxic and can have real detrimental health risks for the residents, residents are unlikely to believe the health risks are real if the city has proven to not otherwise care about their health. Additionally, I believe a forced removal would not positively contribute to the resident’s long-term health impacts either.

Getting to know the residents has allowed me to listen to their goals and ideas, and brainstorm with them and City staff about how the City might be able to help them achieve those goals.

To date, I’ve been able to connect the residents with the folks at Envision Community, who aim to build the city’s first cluster development, and Avivo Villages, an innovative shelter model that could offer them the kind of freedom and self-determination that the residents feel are lacking in the traditional shelter system.

Kristel Porter: We can’t call ourselves a progressive and ethical community while we continue to accept our neighbors living outdoors. We would never accept a dog being left outside in freezing weather but we accept that hundreds of people have been living outdoors, even over the last few weeks of the well-below-zero temperatures. I do not believe that encampments are safe or dignified alternatives to housing. Eviction by law enforcement is equally as abhorrent and dehumanizing as it criminalizes people experiencing unsheltered homelesness. I would support an ordinance that provides for eviction only in the case of imminent harm or danger (using a very strict lens to meet that test) and would mandate that the City coordinate with the Office to End Homelessness to assure that each encampment resident be asked to attest to being provided housing options and that no encampment residents be moved en masse or individually distributed to other encampments. Additionally, any eviction be conducted by community members and outreach organizations, not law enforcement. Parallel to this ordinance, I would support an additional ordinance mandating that the City be compelled to transition City-owned properties to either deeply affordable housing (while prioritizing home ownership options) and or transitional housing/shelter after 6 months of City acquiring the property if that property is not located within 1 mile of another shelter/transitional housing asset. I would coordinate with County, State and Metro partners to work to decentralize these efforts in order to increase the opportunity for residents to choose to live in communities of their choice. Additionally, I know that the best solutions for any challenge come from people with lived experience. I would work to remove barriers to funding of initiatives that come directly from those most impacted communities including BIPOC led grassroots organizations and prioritizing funding going to people who credibly demonstrate that they center the leadership of people with lived experience of housing insecurity and or unsheltered homelessness. 

Finally, there are classes of people who have experienced systemic violence within systems such as young adults aging out of foster care and children of incarcerated parents. Also, BIPOC people with documented Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) would also be a class who have experienced systemic harm historically and within their own lifetimes. These classes of neighbors are significantly more likely to experience unsheltered homelessness. If you are African American you have a 1:100 chance, if you are Indigenous you have a 1:50 chance and if you are white you have a 1:1,300 chance of experiencing unsheltered homelessness. I will coordinate with Federal and State partners to advocate for universal basic income for these classes of people as both a safety net and as reparations for harm done by the state.

Providing these resources to people who are vulnerable to experiencing housing insecurity is a just and moderate intervention to prevent homelessness. The ROI for this investment is tremendous. Studies upon studies have demonstrated that the best way to prevent or end homelessness on an individual basis is simply to give people money. We know that people know what to do with their money and taking care of survival needs is obviously the first thing anyone would address.

Q4: SROs and rooming houses have historically been the most affordable homes available, and an important option for people transitioning out of homelessness. They were largely outlawed during zoning reforms decades ago, and nonprofits like Alliance Housing that manage some of the few remaining rooming houses say they do not have enough space. Would you vote to relegalize this housing option in all parts of Minneapolis?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: Yes.

Kristel Porter: I fully support the legalization of SROs only if there are safeguards set in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of its residents by creating “intentional communities.”I would work to ensure that included in that legislation are provisions that decentralize SRO’s throughout the City and prohibit new SROs being created within 1 mile of similar projects. Also, I would work to ensure that no new SROs constructed in zip codes with average incomes lower than $75,000 until 10 SROs are constructed in zip codes with higher average incomes. SRO’s must have staff, specialists, and licensed professionals onsite to maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the residents, and property. SRO’s would have to submit a report showing progression and success of programs, names and credentials of staff working onsite and a property inspection when they renew their rental license annually. This will ensure that all SRO’s remain Tier 1 properties which everyone deserves to reside in no matter what income level you are. I personally know people who have stayed in SRO’s, and they faced many instances of trauma leading up to staying there. The idea here is to provide safe housing and to not expose those who are already in a tough situation to more unsafe and traumatic experiences. We must make sure that the residents that stay at SRO’s are safe and are not made subject to the possibility of more harm or danger. We have to make sure that SRO’s do not become an opportunity for outside investors to take advantage of and build wealth on the backs of vulnerable populations without being held accountable to provide real programs and opportunities for their residents to move forward into a life of self sufficiency.

Additionally, I believe that it is incumbent upon the government to remove barriers attributed as reasons for why deeply affordable housing and transitional housing options are not constructed in zip codes with higher average incomes. Practically, this could mean interventions such as land trusts, gap funding and even eminent domain. We have seen that Ward 5 is a target of predatory corporations who have already purchased single family homes effectively removing one of the most reliable wealth building opportunities in our neighborhoods. As a lifelong Ward 5 resident I not only know that we have tremendous wisdom and expertise, these amazing people are my friends and neighbors! We have the experience and expertise to address the greatest challenges in the Ward. As the Ward 5 Council Member I am committed to assuring our community is not only at the table but is preparing the meal as well!

Q5: Minneapolis has enacted a number of reforms recently to expand access to more housing types in all neighborhoods — including legalizing ADUs, triplexes, and apartments in some places they’d previously been banned. Do you support this work? If so, what are some ways you’d build on it as a member of the city council?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: I do. I mentioned cluster developments or “tiny homes” above, and I will continue to work to bring such projects to fruition. As we enter this transition between the passing of Minneapolis 2040 and the finalizing of the detailed policies, it’s been important that I be available to help constituents navigate an often-confusing system. I would continue to do this.

Kristel Porter: I do support these efforts, with some caveats for Ward 5. Here, we see investors come in and buy multiple rental properties, let the houses become rundown, treat tenants like crap, and take all that rental income straight out of the neighborhood. More than 75% of owners of our “problem properties” i.e. slumlords, don’t live in our neighborhoods. Imagine if those owners did live in our community, and they had a direct incentive to maintain the properties, and that rental income would be invested in the community to support our local small businesses and attract more businesses that serve the needs of the community.

There may be some unintended consequences in Ward 5, and I propose the following ideas specific to this ward:

  • Triplexes can only be built on vacant lots
  • Triplexes must be developed by owner occupants
  • Incentivise the construction of more fourplexes, which require an architect and more city oversight
  • Give the equivalent of a 2-year property tax grant to owner-occupied first time home buyers over outside investors

One thing I would like to ask: is the City of Minneapolis actually serious about their supposed commitment to areas like North Minneapolis and Philips/Powderhorn? If so, put their money where their mouth is. If they are serious about allowing areas that were historically redlined to build generational wealth and have stable communities (which are diverse in people and occupation and income level already) they will support a moratorium on property taxes for those areas for ALL residents, so they don’t penalize upward mobility, and also focus equity on the very areas they defined as being most impacted by historic exploitative practices. We need to have housing policy examined and analyzed based on data and not just sound bites, to ensure that REAL change occurs. Too much of what has been done over generations is about talking the talk, but very little was done to ensure that any of it walked the walk. So it is an era of promoting policy that is well thought out, with attention to nuance and reality, and with the understanding that policy plays out in some parts of the city differently than in others, so safeguards are needed. And policy makers shouldn’t be afraid of being asked questions – they should embrace that and get the answers. You bring an era of accountability backed by real policy change that will actually make an impact. Not just empty promises built on vague policy that benefits affluent neighborhoods more than anyone else.

We need policy that is examined in terms of how it affects areas like North Minneapolis, before just adopting something city-wide that ignores the disparate realities of different areas of our city. I support refining the city’s current “Inclusionary Zoning Policy” to actually require that the units be included in the building. Right now there are 3 major loopholes where basically it created a world where the newest “amenity” for luxury condos is being able to “pay a fee” in lieu of having poor people live in the same building with you. This defeats the purpose of an inclusionary policy when there are allowances built in to let people opt out. They focused on sheer qualities of units being created, nevermind that redlining was racist because it only allowed people to live in certain areas. The point of Inclusionary Zoning was to get rid of that segregation yet they wrote it on into the very first policy they adopted about it. I have a map showing where all of our subsidized housing currently is located. Every council member who voted for that with those “exceptions” is just as guilty of redlining as those who redlined 100 years ago. What makes matters worse is, they had developers help craft that policy and was adopted a year ago and zero affordable units have been built thus far under that policy.

Q6: Affordable housing funding is precious, and public subsidy often builds homes that are still too expensive for the people struggling the most, with studio apartment rents over $1,000, and 4 bedroom rents up to $1800. How would you use zoning, TIF, or other city-controlled tools to legalize less expensive homes so that affordable housing funding can support the lowest income residents of Minneapolis?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: I will continue to support increases to zoning and fight any efforts to undermine this work. We have seen TIF become a tool of gentrification when it is used to spur market-rate housing and commercial development. Therefore if TIF is used, it must be tied to affordability. Leveraging state programs with regard to NOAH and advocating for more public housing funding through our intergovernmental work, will be absolutely essential. 

Kristel Porter: I completely agree that the average cost to build new affordable housing creates challenges to assuring that rents are truly affordable. These costs are determined by the complex interaction of brick and mortar, labor and soft costs that are higher for affordable housing projects because of the often labyrinthine processes necessary to secure government subsidies. Again, I am looking to the expertise found right in Ward 5 including community advocates, architects, developers and urban planners to develop the plan that is right for us. However, I will insist that we look beyond the Twin Cities for inspiration. One model that I find particularly compelling is the Mixed-Income Neighborhood Trust Model that is proving to be successful in Kansas City. It has the elements that I know our community values:

1. Led and implemented by an existing neighborhood group

2. The MINT places units into the Trust of community stakeholders

3. Equity returns are split between funders and the neighborhood, becoming a long-term source of community wealth.

Equally as important to me is to assure long term sustainability in our housing stock. Ensuring that new construction is NET ZERO will support long term affordability and will contribute to our efforts to combat climate change. Funding to retrofit eligible existing housing stock is also needed.

Finally, innovative/entrepreneurial and creative efforts that come directly from people who have lived experience must be supported and supporting them means funding them. Envision Community is an outstanding example of what can be created when people with lived experience are listened to and simply allowed to lead. I commit to always doing whatever I can to nurture innovation from our neighbors. I would also like to circle back to the fact that renting is not the only means of affordable housing. Every person deserves the right to have a choice. Many people of color were denied the opportunity to build generational wealth through homeownership, and furthermore by the promotion of policy that rewards absentee investors over local, neighborhood landlords. I will always continue to look for ways to support local community members in their quest to rent or own, and would like to see those income dollars circulate in the community to help spur economic development in the long term, without the constant need for subsidy that comes when all of your community’s expendable income leaves the zip code at the start of the month to go to some absentee landlord in an entirely different city!

Q7: Our city has grown by 53,000 people in the last 9 years. Do you believe that Minneapolis should make space for more people as our city grows? If so, what is the best way to do that and also ensure that BIPOC communities and people who made Minneapolis their home before the current growth can stay in their communities if they want?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: I believe it is absolutely essential that we make space. Production of more affordable housing will be necessary if we want to ensure that added housing does not gentrify our neighborhoods. The Redwell building in my ward was slated to be market rate, as was a portion of the Artspace building in Harrison. However, both developers were eventually convinced to bring those projects to be 100% affordable, at various levels including 30%, 50%, and 60% of Area Median Income. I’m supporting the first affordable housing project along the river, in my ward. I also went to the state and successfully advocated for the funding of the Olson Townhomes redevelopment; a development that had been denied funding for years prior.

We must also ensure the growth of our city is a benefit, not a detriment, to our current residents. That means we will not only need to invest in housing to combat displacement, but we will also need to enable and ensure the local ownership of commercial property. I worked with City staff to create the Commercial Property Development Fund—a zero interest, due on sale loan—that’s designed to help local businesses buy their buildings. On the Northside, three local business owners are on their way to purchasing and renovating their buildings, with these funds making the key difference. Smaller, local businesses tend to hire local and pay fairly. Affordable rents can never be affordable enough unless we find ways to promote and mandate fair wages.

Kristel Porter: Absolutely, we must make sure that Minneapolis is a welcoming place as we grow. We are stronger as we grow in diversity while first and foremost we assure that our existing neighbors benefit from that growth and are not displaced. The MINT model is one of several that embed long term community wealth strategies. I commit that I will base any decision that I make and will encourage my colleagues at the Council level and other levels of government that we need to develop an anti-gentrification/community wealth building lens that scrutinizes all community development projects that come before us. And again, I will insist that my neighbors who have a depth of wisdom and expertise be part of developing this lens. The truth is, Minneapolis already has the space for many new residents, and the space for existing residents to continue to live and invest in our city. Through historic and multi-generational disinvestment, redlining, predatory lending, and most recently a slate of demolitions, North Minneapolis and the 5th Ward in particular have a disproportionate amount of vacant land in the city. Much of that vacant land is city- or county-owned, and many of those parcels are contiguous. So while we talk about needing to add residents through infill construction or high-density building, the 5th Ward already has the most essential and valuable commodity: land. To be sure, the our ward has some unique barriers to development that other communities don’t have or are perceived as not having. The 2040 Plan was innovative in terms of expanding housing choice, but one of its greatest failures was that it does not take into account how to direct investment to a community that needs it the most. While Uptown or North Loop jockey over how to build the next, most expensive apartment building on a parcel that has already been in use, places like 23rd and Lyndale North or 28th and Penn have remained fallow for a generation or more. Appropriate and aggressive targeting of TIF funding towards these areas is an essential tool in overcoming some of the financial and logistical hurdles developers face when deciding to invest here. Further, as we move toward implementation of BRT on Penn Avenue, much of that corridor’s vacant land is still zoned R1A. Even with expanded R1 zoning, that is an insufficient use of the land on a major transit corridor – especially considering that the 19 has one of the highest ratios of riders who use public transit as a primary mode of transportation. If the only benefit to BRT is that someone can get from Brooklyn Center to downtown three minutes faster, while the 5th Ward remains undeveloped, that is a missed opportunity of historic proportions.

Creating new housing opportunities for added population density is vital to the 5th Ward, but the CLCLT and CURA have surveyed north Minneapolis residents and found that most 1) like living on the northside, 2) want to continue living on the northside, and 3) would invest more, i.e. through home ownership and business entrepreneurship, if they could. North Minneapolis does not suffer from apathy; our residents want to stay, invest in, and improve our community. We just need to provide them the resources to do so. Targeted down payment assistance and rent-to-own pathways, directing TIF and affordable housing trust fund dollars to infill construction, zoning variances when possible for business development, are all tools that the city can better utilize to create pathways for our current and longtime residents to remain here, have affordable ownership and invest here as the city and ward grow. 

We need to build more quality housing options for people, and we need to provide more choice. We should not make our city into a monotone prairie of sameness. In our community, we celebrate diversity and as a Northsider, I bring to the table an intrinsic appreciation for options and places for all people. Not just one type of space that all people have to be forced into. We want unique spaces and we like the different characters of our various neighborhoods. There is room for our existing neighbors, and we will continue to make room for our future neighbors. In order to avoid displacement we must lift our existing neighbors up, support them, and allow them to have choices.

Q8: The city has the ability to pass a public housing levy. Would you vote to use that levy to the maximum extent?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: Yes.

Kristel Porter: This is a great idea that I hadn’t thought of. As I understand it, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority never had levy authority independent from the city but at one point the city chose a dedicated levy for those properties. Then someone at the city said – hey we don’t need a dedicated levy for that – so it just got tossed into the overall city budget where it has to compete with the other tax-funded activities. I don’t know what you mean by maximum extent but I’d love to hear your ideas. And yes, Public Housing should have levy authority.

Q9: Given our history of redlining, exclusionary zoning, freeways, slum clearance, and urban renewal, what is your vision for an equitable and restorative way of building a better Minneapolis for all?

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: In places like North Minneapolis, where I represent, undoing historic and current harms will require short-term sacrifices from the city’s (and region’s) most comfortable, and North Minneapolis is not the only place deserving of remedy.

For example, before my time in office, the Blue Line was planned to follow Highway 55/Olson Memorial Highway. The market, anticipating transit infrastructure, kicked into gear and the adjacent neighborhoods faced rising rents, rapid new development, and displacement. In fact, a study on gentrification from the U of M’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) determined that Harrison neighborhood to be one of the most gentrified neighborhoods in the city. The people in charge at the time were ambivalent about the potential of displacement, and saw new development as purely beneficial, with no potential for harm. Fast-forward to today, and Harrison faces a “worst of both worlds” scenario: the Blue Line is being rerouted. Even worse, Olson Memorial Highway is notoriously dangerous to cross, and the construction of a new light rail was supposed to resolve those safety issues.

I’m currently working to ensure that the same mistakes are not made as the discussions begin about the new route going down West Broadway or Lowry Ave—we must accept that while this infrastructure is needed and long overdue, it comes with a strong potential to displace residents. We need an anti-displacement plan, we need to put money behind that plan, and we need to put our residents in a position to be in control of the future of their neighborhood. And I am going to demand that Olson Memorial Highway get its safety improvements, and make it a condition of municipal consent if I have to.

While I believe the City will never have enough money on its own to execute a serious and worthwhile reparations program to Black and Indigenous residents, I do believe that our efforts to build the future can and must approximate that intention and be judged by how well they provide stability and prosperity for BIPOC communities.

Kristel Porter: This question calls for the familiar analysis about the difference between equality and equity. Given the undeniable fact that the violent acts that you reference have occurred time and time again to Ward 5, I will stand with my neighbors and insist that we don’t want to be treated ‘equally’ in relationship to other neighborhoods, we will be treated with equity and in our case, this demands repair. To have people in power only taking an interest in us when 1) there’s opportunity (such as the Upper Harbor Terminal), 2) it’s fashionable – will not be tolerated any longer. We do not need performative activism and we do not need those who live outside our Ward acting as though they know best for us.

We know what we need. I will not relent until we see reparative measures in our Community.

Many of the ideas that I have already mentioned may very well be useful strategies to get us there but without a holistic commitment that evaluates all City initiatives for their impact on the Northside, Phillips and Central, this project by project approach will never get us to where we deserve to be. I will be advocating that the City do in the Northside what it has done for other projects it viewed as critically important. Passive leadership has not worked. I will actively ask to see tools that the City has willingly used for other important projects (The US Bank Stadium, Target Downtown, the Neighborhood Revitalization Program to name a few) applied to us. We are creative, resourceful, and persevering, we can heal ourselves with tools that simply repair the historical damage.

Q10: If there are any other thoughts you’d like to add, please use this space to do so.

Elijah Norris-Holliday: see question 1 for general response

Jeremiah B Ellison – incumbent: I want to thank you all for your questions, and for all of the hard work of your respective organizations.
Kristel Porter: none