Amidst a pandemic nightmare, the cooperative housing dream prevails.
Amidst a pandemic nightmare, the cooperative housing dream prevails.
For five years, Jazmin Lopez has lived in one of the Steve Frenz owned buildings in the Corcoran neighborhood. Over that span of time she's endured cockroach and mice infestations, broken windows, ruptured water pipes, and eviction notices. Today, after years of organizing for renters' rights with Inquilinxs Unidxs, she declared the Land Bank's purchase of her building "a dream come true." In this edition, we celebrate the power of dogged organizing.
Image credit Cori Lin.
Time and time again, the City of Minneapolis tried to hold Spiros Zorbalas accountable for his consistent abuse of low-income renters and immigrant tenants. But it wasn't until a deep, renters' rights organizing strategy came into place that Jazmin's dream of owning a home in a healthy, dignified, and cooperatively run environment would become a reality.
In 2008, a media outlet laid out a detailed series of cases that crowned Zorbalas as "the slumlord of south Minneapolis." Yet it took the City five more years to revoke Zorbalas' rental license, resulting in a half-baked accountability deal ending in a fake sale of his properties to both a new player and a new business partner, Mr. Steve Frenz.
Enter Inqulinxs Unidxs por Justicia, or United Renters for Justice, a grassroots, culturally relevant group of organizers who were as tenacious about getting the job done as they were about building authentic and meaningful relationships with every one of the multi-lingual tenants they came in contact with. Thousands of organizing hours, hundreds of pro-bono legal defense, and one class action suit later - the tenants and families of the five buildings in the Corcoran neighborhood have achieved their freedom from landlord retaliation and maltreatment.
In late 2017, and due to the committed organizing investment of Inquilinxs Unidxs, the City of Minneapolis was once again in the position to revoke the Frenz-Zorbalas rental licensing ordeal and we worked to help put tenants on a path to ownership of the buildings they had called home for over a decade.
Today, amidst this pandemic nightmare, I am renewed by the news that the Land Bank Twin Cities was able to purchase the five apartment buildings in Corcoran neighborhood with City and LISC financing securing 69 housing units into long-term, affordable, and dignified housing in our own community. The City was able to invest $3.45 million dollars to help make this dream come true and we're ready to keep going.
I am forever thankful and inspired by the dogged organizing hearts of the many people who decided to take a stand and fight for their rights on 22nd Avenue South.
We see you, we love you, mil gracias for your lucha,
In solidarity (and health-smarts) with cities across the country, our Ninth Ward office would like to strongly encourage you to wear a mask anytime and everytime you are outdoors and in large groups of people.
We want to hear from everyone in Minneapolis that wants and needs a face mask! To submit your request please email covid19 (at) minneapolismn (dot) gov so we can match you up with the right donor.
More specifically, the City of Minneapolis is helping to manage the donation and distribution of face masks. If you would like to donate face masks please fill this online form.
If you are in need of a face mask, please complete this request form.


Do you want a no-frills face mask? Contrary to his original stance, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams later issued a video demonstrating how every day people can make their own mask at home using a tee-shirt and two rubber bands. MarketWatch published an article examining the best "from home" fabrics that should be used for a home-made mask.

You can also check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to get a tutorial on how to make a mask and wear a mask. ¡Adelante con las mascaras!

Join PolicyLink, the Center for Popular Democracy, Partnership for Working Families, People’s Action, the Right to the City Alliance, the Alliance for Housing Justice, and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for this one-hour webinar on policy changes to cancel the rent and mortgages due to COVID19.

The COVID19 pandemic has set in motion an unprecedented economic downturn. It has also exposed the deep failings of the housing system. Even before the pandemic, over 40 million U.S. households were spending more than they could afford on housing, and half a million people were unhoused. Less than one percent of housing is both affordable and accessible to people living with disabilities. Women of color suffer the highest eviction rates and cost burden, and Black and Indigenous people face the highest rates of homelessness.

PolicyLink and its partners have recently launched a new initiative, Our Homes, Our Health, to advance a housing response and recovery plan that centers racial equity and transforms our unjust housing system. Please join this webinar to learn how a state and local policy agenda to cancel rent and mortgages and reclaim our homes can stabilize our communities and expand affordable housing, and hear from policymakers and organizers from around the country who are moving campaigns forward.

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