Minneapolis Housing Inspectors Again Terrorize Hawthorne: A Tour Around the Block

by Dyna Sluyter

There are around 2000 officially vacant and boarded buildings on Minneapolis "249 list". The real number of actual abandoned buildings is several times that, as we'll see in a minute on my block. The list grows with every day as more buildings are abandoned. Buildings do leave the list, but usually to the landfill- Minneapolis is so undesirable a place to live and Minneapolis' Housing Inspections and other agencies so demanding that it's simply not worth rehabbing Minneapolis' vacant buildings. So conservatively assuming a value of $100,000 for each building on Minneapolis list, we've permanently lost around $200,000,000 in tax base. Just tearing down these 2000 or so officially acknowledged boarded and vacant buildings will set the city back about $34,000,000. The city has dropped it's own asking price for buildable vacant lots down to the $4000 range and they're still finding few takers. It costs on average $17,000 to demolish an abandoned building to produce one of those $4000 vacant lots, is it no wonder that Minneapolis thousands of abandoned buildings aren't selling?

Lets focus down to the block level. I live on block one of the Woodland Park addition in Hawthorne. This is a square block with 19 buildings and 41 housing units. 4 of those 19 buildings still have
unpaid taxes from previous years, a 5th is owned by Minneapolis and thus hasn't paid taxes since crack got the streets here in the 1980s. Of those 41 housing units, at least 22 are vacant. Even the assessors slow to respond property values show a loss of over one million dollars in tax base on this one block alone. Of the 41 housing units, only 5 are owner occupied and they're all current on their taxes.

There's been no urban pioneers coming upon the scene to save this block in Hawthorne - there have been all of 3 buildings rehabbed since the foreclosure crisis, and two of those are are owned by the notorious slumlord wannabe, Mr. Amro. Minneapolis has hundreds, no make that thousands, of blocks like this... We can no longer look at Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, or East St. Louis with smug arrogance.This is a block and a neighborhood that is barely hanging on by a thread.

Last week uninvited Minneapolis Housing Inspectors invaded our neighborhood, imposing their warped set of values on our community. It appears everyone has been given notices, surely not all
of us are scofflaws? Most irritating are the "gotchas"- I was told to pave a driveway I don't even use and my 75 year old neighbor was told to totally rebuild or tear down his garage. Last year Minneapolis Housing Inspectors forced him to make extensive repairs to that garage, and the year before Minneapolis Housing Inspectors forced him to spend $1000 to gravel his driveway- and he doesn't even own a car or drive! Meanwhile, our slumlord wannabe has his belatedly permitted basement finished is well on the way to bringing the gangbangers back to our block.

My home is smaller than the one Connie bought for $7900 and hers has a basement and central heating that mine doesn't. That makes mine worth maybe $5000 and the nicest house on the block worth maybe $10,000. Yet we already pay over a thousand dollars a year in taxes plus higher insurance rates due to Minneapolis' failure to control crime. For many of us, this latest attack from Minneapolis is the last straw- There is open talk on the block of not paying our taxes and letting Minneapolis have the privilege of maintaining our abandoned homes forever. And with Minneapolis Housing Inspectors lurking to take back with fines the purported incentives offered to home buyers in Minneapolis, is it any wonder they've had so few takers? You'd think that with 2000 abandoned buildings already dragging Minneapolis down the city wouldn't want to add anymore...

from increasingly abandoned Hawthorne,

Dyna Sluyter

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