NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Thursday September 23rd 2021

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September 2021

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Ebenezer Land

By DWIGHT HOBBES

“Affordable housing…is a misnomer of sorts: affordability implies the ability to pay for something given your budget”, think tank Cato Institute noted in a 2016 blog. Anyone of modest means looking for someplace to live who has run into what’s being marketed as “affordable” can tell you just what a misnomer that is. It begs the cynical retort, affordable to whom? On top of which, rents and income have gone in opposite directions for some time and the contagion certainly didn’t help, putting people out of work left and right.

Ebenezer Park Apartments (photo courtesy of Ebenezer)

Enter Ebenezer Park Apts., which doesn’t solve that problem for everyone, but does give the elderly and disabled, including deaf tenants, a sorely needed break. Starting with the wallet, but, importantly, not ending there. Paramount, it goes without saying, is the difference between dispiritedly perusing ads for places priced out of your range and being asked one-third of your income – whatever that happens to be. Plus, there’s no application fee. It defies reason as how companies and organizations, whose selling card is affordability, charge at least $35, non-refundable, with a straight face just to fill out an application. Claiming it’s to cover the background check is just so much bilge water. Ebenezer can find out whether you got booked for loitering and doesn’t pocket a dime in the process.

We’re not talking public housing, which generally, how little you pay, is no bargain. Shelterforce.org documents, “Public housing [has led], to a cycle of government neglect and under-funding which, in turn, led to poor construction design, inadequate maintenance, racial segregation, stigmatization, and further concentration of the very poor.” In parts of Minneapolis, it also fosters veritable drug and prostitution franchises.

Conversely, Ebenezer is a comparative oasis. Maintenance, something no apartment dweller takes for granted, is reliable. Importantly, building security is sound with a simple but strict entrance policy in effect 24/7. All said, with these basics a given, tenants also enjoy quality-of-life support. A mini-laundromat is available around the clock, except an hour a day for cleaning. A daily lunch comes courtesy of the kitchen. The on-site store provides prescription delivery and over the counter meds. In the downstairs lounge (each floor has one), there are recreation treadmills, a place to play cards or dominoes and a huge flat-screen television fit for feature film viewing. For that matter, satellite service is dirt cheap, available at an incredible price. In short, the very living conditions are positive reinforcement at an opportune time in life. Trista Garceau, Leasing & Certification Director, states, “Ebenezer is driven to [sustain] longer, healthier, meaningful lives. We all have a passion for providing services that make everyday life easier. We’re more than a landlord in this setting.  Ebenezer, which means ‘stone of help’, has over 100 years of experience serving [individuals] and their families.” Established in 1917 to provide community-centered care for homeless older adults and others, Ebenezer is now Minnesota’s largest senior housing operator. Ebenezer Park Apartments has been in South Minneapolis at 2700 Park Ave. since 1980, one of ten apartment complexes statewide (in the immediate area, humorously dubbed “Ebenezer Land”, are Ebenezer Tower Apartments, Ebenezer Loren On Park – assisted living and Ebenezer Care Center – nursing home).

Residential Services Director Danette Billups, seeing to 200 units, reflects, “I’m a people person and like to keep [tenants] happy.” Calling it multi-tasking understates the case. She adds with a smile, “It’s like having a big target on my back.” During 2018’s all-hands-on-deck renovation, she filled in as “the cat whisperer”. She recalls, “They had different [apartments] they worked on each week. And people had pets. Cats, parakeets, whatever. I helped get them in a carrier or the cage, move them to the different apartments left vacant for that purpose. Like a hotel room where [owners] spent the day. Cable tv, refreshments.” The idea was to make tenants comfortable during the inconvenience.She grins, “Sometimes a cat didn’t want to go back. So, I’d have to chase them around.” It worked out so well there are t-shirts to commemorate the occasion.

Not all that long ago, senior housing amounted to warehousing – sticking gramps or granny in a corner with some oatmeal and Jell-O. Ebenezer Park Apartments, it goes without saying, does no such thing. To sum things up in one tenant’s words, “It’s a state-of-the-art old folk’s home. There need to be more just like it.”

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yödoishëndahgwa’geh: A Place for Rest

ALL MY RELATIONS GALLERY

yödoishëndahgwa’geh (a place for rest) is inter-sensorial space of moving image and sound
by Seneca artist Rosy Simas and her collaborative composer François Richomme. The intention of the space is to contribute to the healing of generations on the river behind us – our ancestors, and in front of us – generations yet to be born. yödoishëndahgwa’geh is cyclical creation. By resting and taking refuge in the space, each visitor influences the installation and contributes to the future iterations.
Now showing through September 21, 2021
at All My Relations Arts, 1414 E Franklin Avenue.
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What Time for Forgiveness?

Peace House Community-A Place to Belong

By MARTI MALTBY

As you probably know, a Japanese Olympic official was fired on the eve of the opening ceremonies because of comments he made in a comedy routine about 20 years earlier. The comments were determined by his superiors to be racist, and so he was relieved of his duties. (I haven’t heard the comments so I can’t comment one way or the other about the accuracy of that interpretation.) This is not the first time that someone has been punished for a comment or action from the distant past that resurfaced as the person took on more responsibility. There was a time when such comments and actions were often overlooked or excused, allowing perpetrators to continue to act in the same way without having any reason to change. While I am glad that society is doing a better job of proclaiming what sort of behavior will or will not be tolerated, I am concerned about how easy it would be to move too far in the other direction. I can easily image us getting to a point where any foolish, flippant or immature comment can become a weapon against the person who made it.

For myself, I’ve made many comments throughout my life that I regret and wish I could take back. Some came from immaturity and insecurity, which made me lash out at others whom I perceived as threats. Some were meant to be witty without recognizing that there are certain topics that should not be the subject of flippant comments. At various times in my life, I have been ignorant, insensitive, or so desperate for acceptance that I have said what I thought others wanted to hear rather than what I believed. And sometimes, I have said what I believe, only to have those beliefs evolve over time so that I now disown my previous statements.

I know I am not alone in this. I have never met anyone who thinks, speaks and acts in exactly the same way now as they did ten or twenty years ago. This is why I am so worried about old comments and actions defining individuals now. I have known many people who were jerks in high school but who turned into great members of the community. In those cases, their previous comments should be used as measures of how much esteem they should receive now, not how much judgement.

On the other hand, we all know that society contains its share of dangerous, predatory, or sociopathic individuals. They seek their own good and pleasure, and they will exploit anyone around them to attain their goals. Perhaps they showed some of these traits years ago and have become better at exploitation over time. In other cases, they may have made a good start to life and then became bitter and self-centered through tragedy or some other experience. Regardless of why they have become dangerous, society is right to prevent these people from gaining the power to harm others.

As I said, I don’t know the context of the Japanese official’s (purportedly) racist comments. I don’t believe it is my place to pass judgment on him. However, it is my responsibility to help those around me grow and mature, as it is to protect those who need protection. This duty rests with each of us. I hope that we are able to strike the right balance in doing it.

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Are You Letting Expenses Rise to Meet Income?

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA

I once heard the phrase: Expenses rise to meet income. “Not me!” I thought. But, to be honest, even a pathologically frugal person like me lets expenses rise with income.

Case in point: For most of my life (we’re talking quite a few decades) I watched broadcast television and library videos on hand-me-down TVs. Cable was not in the budget as a single parent.

After my nest emptied and I had only myself to support, I envied friends and the great stuff they were watching on internet streaming sites. So, I started to pay for streaming. But, because my TV was so old and dated, I had to move off the couch in the living room to a hard chair in front of the computer screen to watch streaming video. I was okay with that, but my cat was not. We had a lot of disagreements about what was comfortable and what wasn’t.

So I finally paid money for a new TV for the first time in my life. (Don’t worry – I didn’t completely go off the rails; it is a modest TV). We were back on the couch for TV time, and harmony was restored to the household. But, of course, that meant I needed to buy other devices, like a digital antenna and some box to get the internet to my TV. More expenses.

I could argue all this spending was justified to keep the cat happy, which makes my life easier. But the truth is, I didn’t need to pay for entertainment in the first place. There is still plenty to watch on broadcast TV, and my library is only two blocks away.

Why wouldn’t you want to let expenses rise to meet income?

  1. Retirement. I have a cousin who always put her pay raises into her retirement account instead of spending it. Because of her diligence, she retired early with her husband and they are enjoying life very much.
  2. Unforeseen events. Nearly 70% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings. Almost a quarter don’t even have a savings account. It doesn’t take much of an emergency to put a family into a financial tailspin. Instead of getting the latest and greatest smartphone (and the attendant increased monthly expense) with that raise, put it into an emergency savings account. Money in the bank is quite comforting.
  3. Reduced income. Keeping monthly expenses to a minimum will make it so much easier to weather a reduction in income from a layoff, divorce, or disability. Not being tied to expensive phone contracts or that new car payment will make adjusting to less income so much easier.

I’m not suggesting we always have to deny our wants. Just think through taking on that new expense before you are locked in to it:

  • Review your retirement and/or emergency savings: Are they sufficient?
  • Ask yourself how necessary the expense is: Can a cheaper car suffice? Does everyone in the family need a new phone? How many streaming or gaming services can you realistically use?
  • Remind yourself how marketing and advertising manipulates us into spending our hard-earned money on unnecessary stuff.

Save that new money! I guarantee you’ll thank yourself someday.

Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling which offers free counseling for budgeting, debt, credit, student loans, and housing. Website: www.lssfinancialcounseling.org. Call: 888-577-2227.

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Transit News: Going Too Slow

by John Charles Wilson

(Note: Some concepts in this month’s column are borrowed from a streets.mn article titled “Metro Transit Service: Chicken or Egg”, posted 6 August 2021 by Andy Lewis, even though the opinions I will state are my own.)

Metro Transit is going too slow. By that, I don’t mean the buses and trains are literally going too slow, or running too infrequently. (In some parts of the country, “fast” and “slow” are used colloquially to refer to frequency of transit service.) What I mean is, Metro Transit is going too slow at responding to changing conditions regarding changing transit needs as pandemic conditions keep changing.

We had light at the end of the tunnel, then it got extinguished by the Delta variant. With the even more threatening Lambda variant on the international scene, we may be in for another round of Stay-At-Home Orders. Or we may not, we just don’t know.

Metro Transit typically adjusts schedules during something called a “pick”, when operators sign up for their piece of work for the next three months. During normal times, this quarterly schedule adjustment is plenty. However, in the rapidly changing world of COVID-19, perhaps a monthly adjustment would be wise.

Many people have quit using buses and trains, as either they’re working from home or they are afraid of catching this horrid virus. However, some are just now sticking their noses out (figuratively), and trying Metro Transit again. Right now is the time they should run as many buses and trains as possible given their budget and available drivers. That may mean providing excess service for the time being, but I think that’s a good thing because it helps with social distancing, and reminds people that Metro Transit will be there for them when they are ready to come back. Some routes aren’t even running right now, putting their customers at risk of giving up on transit permanently.

For those who dare ride a bus or train right now, Metro Transit is offering a sale in September and October 2021: $1.00 rides on all routes at all times, 50 cents for those who now get discounts. Personally, I hope this experiment will convince the Met Council that having the same fare at all hours rather than charging extra at rush hour is the way to go for simplicity’s sake.

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Cultural Wellness Center Community Health Hub

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Midtown Global Market

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City Council Committee Votes to Halt Hiawatha Public Works Expansion, Future of Urban Farm Uncertain

By LINDSEY FENNER

In a confusing and close vote, on August 18 the Policy and Government Oversight (POGO) Committee partially approved a staff directive authored by CMs Cano, Jenkins, Gordon, and Johnson, that halts the planned expansion of the Hiawatha Public Works Maintenance Facility at the Roof Depot Site at 1860 E 28th Street in East Phillips. However, an abstention by CM Ellison on the part of the directive which would have given the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) exclusive development rights to the property tied the vote 6-6, so that provision did not pass. This means the future of the East Phillips Urban Farm project proposed by EPNI is uncertain.

The partially approved staff directive passed by a 7-6 vote, with Council Members Reich, Fletcher, Cunningham, Osman, Goodman, and Bender voting no. The POGO Committee is expected to receive a financial report on the city costs of maintaining the Roof Depot site until development, as well as a “racial equity impact analysis” at their meeting on September 9.

In a separate vote, the City Council voted to approve the Environmental Assessment Worksheet of the now halted Hiawatha Public Works Expansion Project. EPNI filed a lawsuit in summer 2020 to stop the City from demolishing the Roof Depot building before an environmental review was completed.

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September Random alley News

By Lindsey Fenner and Laura Hulscher

All the Ward 6 and Ward 9 City Council Candidates on the Ballot in November:

Candidates for City of Minneapolis elections had an August 10 deadline to file to be on the November ballot. Candidates for Ward 6 City Council (which includes Ventura Village and Phillips West in the Phillips neighborhood: Jamal Osman (incumbent) and A. Bihi. Candidates for Ward 9 City Council (which includes East Phillips and Midtown Phillips in the Phillips Neighborhood): Mickey Moore, Yussuf Haji, Brenda Short, Ross Tenneson, Carmen Means, Jason Chavez, Alfred “AJ” Flowers Jr., and Jon Randall Denison. Look for a City Council candidate questionnaire in upcoming editions of the alley!

Long Vacant 628 East Franklin to Be Developed into Affordable Housing: City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT) and Hope Community have entered into an agreement with the City of Minneapolis to turn the historic vacant building at 628 East Franklin Avenue into perpetually affordable housing. The building has been vacant for over 20 years, as various redevelopment plans have fallen through. The plan submitted by CLCLT in partnership with Hope Community will renovate the gutted building into seven condo units: six 3-bed, 2-bath units and one 1-bed, 1-bath unit, affordable to households at or below 60% Area Median Income. Hope Community operates over 200 affordable housing units in the Phillips neighborhood, including the nearby South Quarter affordable housing community at Franklin and Portland. 

Drop In Behavioral Health Center Now Open at 1800 Chicago: Hennepin County’s new Behavioral Health Clinic is open to anyone 18 and older needing help with mental health or substance use. Services include urgent care and physical screening; Housing, cash and food support; and Mental health and substance use services such as

  • Mental health screening and diagnostic assessments
  • Comprehensive screening for addiction disorders
  • Case management and care coordination
  • Support from people with lived experience
  • Help in a crisis, including 3–10 day stay at the crisis stabilization program
  • Withdrawal support from drugs and alcohol

Current hours Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM, with expanded hours coming soon. 1800 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis Enter behind building off Columbus Avenue. For more information: 612-879-3115

24th Avenue Pedestrian Bridge Reopens: After a three-year closure due to the 35W construction project, the pedestrian bridge crossing 35W at 24th Avenue is now rebuilt and reopened. The foot path connects the Phillips and Whittier neighborhood. To celebrate, the MN Department of Transportation buried a time capsule which included a face mask with a traffic cone print, a marionette from Open Eye Theatre, and contributions from Washburn High School and Lyndale Community School. The official bridge reopening on August 19 was celebrated with food, music, arts, and entertainment.

View from the 24th Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
shortly before it’s demolition in 2018. The newly
rebuilt bridge reopened in August 2021. Photo by Tony Webster.

Minneapolis Bans Large Truck Parking, Enforced Beginning January 1, 2022: In late July, the City of Minneapolis passed an ordinance banning trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds from parking on Minneapolis streets. Operators have a grace period before being fined for violating the ordinance, as the City works on education and outreach to help trucking companies and drivers find suitable parking. The ordinance will be enforced beginning in January 2022, with a fine of $100 in 2022, increasing to $150 in 2023, and $250 in 2024 and after. On-street large truck parking has long been a problem for both residents and truck drivers. According to a 2019 MN Department of Transportation study, the Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area has a significant shortage of truck parking. Many trucks parked overnight belong to owner-operators who live in Minneapolis. The ordinance includes a directive for city staff to work on regional policy solutions to the parking shortage. 

Midtown Greenway Glow, September 18, 4-10PM: The Midtown Greenway Coalition will be hosting the Greenway Glow Festival, a free outdoor event along the Midtown Greenway. The Glow features dozens of local artists. Bike, walk, or roll along the Greenway to experience live music, art installations, and theatrical performances.


Proposal to rename Columbus Avenue: A group of residents living along Columbus Avenue have launched an initiative to change the name to Oyáte Avenue (a Dakota language word meaning “the people”). The change is envisioned as “one small piece in the long ongoing work of dismantling white supremacy.” The avenue in question runs from 18th Street to 62nd Street in Minneapolis. To learn more or participate, visit https://www.oyateavenue.org or https://www.facebook.com/oyate.avenue. Sign up for updates at: https://www.oyateavenue.org/contact-us

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