Minneapolis, MN - More than 100 people rallied to demand affordable housing on the Basilica steps, June 24. Many carried signs reading, "Replace-ment, Before Demolition," and "Forget the Stadium, Housing Now!" Police were on hand to guard city officials.
The Twin Cities are in the grips of a severe housing crisis, with a 1% vacancy rate for low income housing. Government handouts to big corporations like Dayton Hudson and the politicians' talk of buying billionaire Carl Polad a new stadium, have fueled anger in the low income community.
"We need affordable housing and living wage jobs," said one homeless man participating in the demonstration. "Dayton's got 40 million dollars last year, but where is the affordable housing for the poor?"
Following the rally, people filled the Basilica's gymnasium, where the city government-appointed, Affordable Housing Task Force heard testimony on the housing crisis.
A homeless African-American man took the microphone and told the committee, "What we need is housing. Period." Another person testified, "If we can build a telescope to the stars, as a nation, we sure can build some houses on the block." Applause shook the gym.
On June 8, 14 people, including seven African American ministers, were arrested for blocking the demolition of the Glenwood Lyndale Public Housing Project. The protest caused Mayor Sayles-Belton to temporarily halt the demolition of the one eighth of the project that is still standing.
One of those arrested, Jerry Freeman of the Minneapolis High-rise Representative council, stated, "Our main goal is to keep housing available for low income folks until the city builds permanent housing."
...and in St. Paul
St Paul, MN - Members of Affordable Housing Now confronted St. Paul Mayor, Norm Coleman on June 22, to demand housing for the homeless. Coleman, who speaks for downtown business interests, refused to make any commitments.
Affordable Housing Now, an organization based in the homeless community, says that there is housing crisis in St. Paul and wants the city to do something about it. The group vows to continue the fight until there is enough affordable housing for everyone.