• Rebeccah Thompson

On Housing

There is much care for those in our community who are without homes or stable housing and this is a legitimate and valid concern and should be uplifted when others lend their voice to the marginalized. It is a very complicated issue however, and I want to make clear MY positions in helping people with housing and stability. Those topics are intricately linked to two other difficult topics: poverty and choice.

The current climate of solving issues of homelessness is that of 'density'. Density, unfettered, it a false premise.

This cannot be underscored enough. It is the current bedrock by which much faulty logic and policy has been crafted and we see it all over our city.

I would ask you, what is the purpose of density as a city? Truly? Many urban planners talk and write about the future of cities and the 15 minute rule in living life- no need should be outside 15 minutes *walk* of your dwelling- food, job, entertainment... That is a very noble goal but one not able to be fulfilled in a city of our type. Let me give you a little screen shot of a conversation I had on facebook in mid- December to save my fingers before I get back to the ideas of density and affordable housing and Ward 4:

"Ok, per the discussion on density: And forgive me if this is long, I'm between last minute shopping and my aunts funeral but I have much thought and research on this. First off, this idea of 'density' is not driven by anything quantifiable. It is not mathematically sound, AT ALL. Yes, our population is increasing, it has practically doubled in my lifetime as it doubled by the time my parents were my age. This is not staggering, this is basic exponential growth- as the early coronavirus numbers were (and you can scroll through the archives of my own FB this spring and see that every day i predicted the day's total cases and was off by less than about 5% every day)- but, the coronivirus was curbed by many things, and that is why our graphs now look like roller coasters. World population is much like that, and we are facing our first major 'roller coaster' as it is about 8 billion people (we are at 7.7 bil today). Well, that is not just a number so much as it is a 'terminal velocity' on the other end. The same way, if covid were allowed to just run through the whole world, we can predict how many it would take, we can also predict what our world can sustain and we have REACHED THAT POINT (around 8 billion people). I could go into the data of where I've found that info- it's almost all from the UN but lets take that as a necessary fact for the rest of the argument, or a semi- agreed fact or statement. (because 'density' is a ruse EITHER WAY).

So, here we are 'density' in cities. We are not needing to take on the weight of all cities and, in fact, there is a lot of evidence that this reckless building has done nothing for our city and our way of life. Elected leaders must be the citadels of our communities, protecting them from outside furies as well as outside wolves in sheeps clothing- and that is what we have here. The industrialization of the last 10 years is nothing new. We went through this as a world little over a hundred years ago, this is a common wave. This brings to communities homelessness and filth. this brings resources to levels taxed. The solutions of the world have ALWAYS been to SPACE OURSELVES OUT. Now, the coronavirus first hit our cities hard and now is entering small towns. This is statistically proven and we have all lived to watch the tale wither we understand the nuance of data or not, but our small towns already exist- so back to population density. We, in MINNEAPOLIS, are not filled with issues so much as we are competing with other cities. We are competing with Portland and Milwaukee and St. Louis and Seattle... Denver, Nashville. We are NOT competing with NYC or LA or SF or Dallas... They are in their own class and we all know it. (Now, the stupid thing is we are gettin angsty about that competition instead of realizing we each have unique qualities which must be protected). But more on density- we are also competing with our suburbs and, really, should give way to our small towns once called 'company towns'. That is the second to last point- There is this idea of the 15 minute rule- everything should be 15 minutes from where you are for sustainability and that is great and nice and I agree... the problem is Boston Scientific is in Fridley, as is Medtronic. 3M is in Maplewood and Cargill is in Wayzata. All of our multinational corporations are in suburbs. We are lucky Target came back downtown along with US BAnk but we will be insanely lucky if we keep them there more than one more election cycle given everything that has gone on in the city this year. As I stated to my cousin, Jono Cowgill (MPRB pres), this is a false flag based on unclear receptors of what our world REALLY IS. Fridley should be building the housing and communities for all those living around Medtronic... which they usually do. Morever, what is this 15 minute rule when there is no base infrastructure of resource to base off of? Minimum wage jobs or managerial jobs only exist when there is a large tent pole to help support them, precisely why you can see that most of our major cities are at intersections of waterways or forts (or mostly both)...

So... WARD 4... Density also precludes this idea that everyone is single and ready to mingle. I lived in high density areas for all of my 20's and loved it. I moved to NYC precisely because I wanted a change from Minneapolis. But when my son was born I wanted out. What I experienced is not uncommon for families. There is something more to a home than just four walls. A small patch of yard is what makes Ward 4 so wonderful. There is a history for us. Bringing the argument all the way back to our acute conversation is this- what this current CC is doing and the 2040 plan are utterly misguided. Math does not support it, history of humanity doesn't support it, and yet it is driving policy where there are random 100 unit buildings all over the place. There is no need. I could go on and on and on but structurally all we are doing is destroying our infrastructure. We need to tend to what is HERE. Now, vacant lots in a city community cannot be tolerated, but MOST of those are city owned. I would wonder why they have been sitting vacant for literal decades when I'm sure there are many who would love to get a small loan and build a space for a resturant or a mixed use where they can live on top. This is where we need to critique CPED for sitting on that money for years. Our community is filled with hard working people who usually don't have time to take as I am sitting here now so they just go about their business... but people such as myself remember dates and times. I remember seeing a building razed at the corner of Penn and Dowling in 2010 and nothing ever came back. I see the steps to a grass knoll next to the Freestop- remnants of a building no longer there, and I wonder why... Why isn't the community allowed to take care of itself as it always has? I will add one thing more, this industrialization of america only serves the interests of few groups and none of them are american. The way our country became strong is our vast wealth of resources and land. Protecting that is of vital importance. *we* as a culture screwed up big time by not listening to our native brothers and sisters, but the wolf is in the hen house now and we are the stewards for better or for worse. To abandon our countryside is to abandon ourselves. Do not forget, the federal government doesn't own this land... and when people flee, who picks up the tab? Who gets to buy vast sums of our wilderness? Follow the money. Ok. that's long and still not fully complete but we need to get rid of this 'density' at all costs mindset. It is very destructive. (I didn't even go into how minneapolis and specifically the northside isn't equipped with parks and mass transit like NYC would be.... if you want a comparison of the guilded age of reckless building... NYC was PLANNED... we are throwing this together and saying it is 'justice' for the unhoused. The argument is a straw man and I take exception to the idea that if I object I don't care about people. I have given my entire life to less fortunate people. I didn't understand it until I had nothing at all, so, yes, it makes me very grateful and protective of the community that I call home. I don't think I'm alone in that.)"

So this brings us back around to HOW DO WE HELP? Well, We have to face the fact that some people will always *want* to be unhoused. I use that word lightly but we haven't found a better one in the english language yet for which to communicate the idea. I have befriended many homeless people over the years, some like the "freedom" of living in shelters or tents. Lifestyle is one that we have to acknowledge as something some people just want. I've met with some homeless who want to find a "better life" and they have ways to get there. I do believe that we have pathways, I have seen them at work and known people who have 'gotten out'. Much of the *want* stems from mental health issues and trauma, yes. That does not mean, however, that we give over our parks to such situations. Period.

And the issue of housing. We have a HUGE PROBLEM in Minneapolis that these developments are RENTALS. These rentals are not capped as the city has NOT put into place any sort of rent control- when rent control is traditionally the EASIEST and QUICKEST way to help people stay where they are. This smacks TO ME of alterior motives, but I allow you to draw your own deductions.

So how do we actually approach this problem? Well, affordable HOME OWNERSHIPS is the hallmark of the middle class which is what makes America different from any other nation. We truly were the beginnings of the destructions of the gentry class without having 'you can't own anything' communism.

Density must be contained to certain parts of the city- and in that at least, AT LEAST 60% of high rises built should be home ownership CONDOS. Perhaps the rolling greens of the pastoral city of old has given way to city scapes, but OWNERSHIP is still the best way to build investment and stability in a community.

So that is city wide, what should we look for in Ward 4?

Well... we have a great community in need of some empty lots to be filled. It would be ridiculous to fill them with large buildings which don't go at all with the tenor or history of our ward. I would advocate for nothing more than a 4-plex in the traditional sense in Minneapolis or a brownstone like the days of old. We have lost architectural integrity by cookie cuttering our communities. Ward 4 needs a lot of one and two story business spaces which should be built by locals using as many neighborhood resources as possible. We DO need to deal with our vacant lots, we DO NOT need to build 100 unit apartment structures.

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