Minneapolis' Newly Formed "Problem Properties" Unit


The Director of Regulatory Services, in partnership with the City Attorney’s Office, the Police Department and the Fire Department, has established a citywide Problem Properties Unit. The Unit is comprised of staff from key City regulatory and enforcement agencies. The primary charge of the Unit is to reduce the number and severity of problem properties in the City. The Unit will accomplish this charge by identifying a list of the city’s worst problem properties and applying collaborative strategies to resolve the immediate problem. In addition, the unit is charged with developing long-term effective solutions that will prevent the re-occurence of problems at the same address and recommending procedural and legal changes that will prevent the occurrence of similar problems around the city.

While there have been several problem property initiatives in the past, this is the first time that a citywide team has been created whose sole purpose is to identify and resolve problem properties. In addition, the Unit will look at the scope of the problem from a citywide perspective, as opposed to an isolated area or neighborhood. The centralized nature of the Unit will help identify similarities in problems between geographic areas and effective procedures that can be streamlined and applied to problems citywide.

The Unit also hopes to draw on the city’s emerging technology resources to predict, identify, track and monitor problem properties in the City.

The core unit will be made up of a newly created Team Manager position, a Administrative Analyst II who will be redirected from the City Coordinator’s Office and dedicating 50% (20 hrs/wk) of his/her time to this effort, an assigned Housing Inspector II position, an assigned Police Officer budgeted under the Police dept., and an assigned Assistant City Attorney budgeted under the City Attorney’s Office dedicated 25-50% of his/her time to this effort.

The unit will also rely on services and assistance from various other Regulatory Divisions and City Departments including: Minneapolis Fire Department, Business Licensing, Construction Inspection Services, Animal Control, Utility Billing, Zoning Enforcement and Hennepin County (County Attorney and Child Protection). Representatives from these Divisions and Departments will identify a staff member as the primary contact and will be covered under their respective budgets.

Note: This is a memo put out by the city of Minneapolis. Its impressive bureaucratic Armada, with an annual payroll that must well exceed $100,000 per year, targets a handful of owners or managers of what the city calls “problem properties”, meaning that they rent to the “housing undesirables”. Foremost among them is MPRAC member, Howie Gangestad, who readily admits that he rents to tenants who cannot find housing elsewhere. “I’m a devil,” he often points out, “while Mary Jo Copeland, who begs me to take these people who are temporarily housed in her shelter, is a saint.” George W. Bush singled out Copeland’s charity operation in his acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

We're calling this now the "Political Games Department" because it has such high-powered political talent. The unit is headed by former Minneapolis City Council Member Dan Niziolek. Among its employees is state senator Linda Higgins. It has its own van. This is truly the place to be.

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