Apartment renters petition Brooklyln Park City Council, host housing forum

Residents of the Park Haven apartments, working together with African Career, Education and Resource Inc., delivered a petition to the Brooklyn Park City Council March 27.

Sebastian Rivera of the Assembly for Civil Rights, left, Nelima Sitati Munene, executive director of African Career, middle, and Denise Butler, project manager for African Career Education and Resources, right, at a March 30 housing forum. (Sun Post staff photo by Kevin Miller)
Sebastian Rivera of the Assembly for Civil Rights, left, Nelima Sitati Munene, executive director of African Career, middle, and Denise Butler, project manager for African Career Education and Resources, right, at a March 30 housing forum. (Sun Post staff photo by Kevin Miller)

Nelima Sitati Munene, executive director of African Career, Education and Resource Inc., said living conditions in the building are unacceptable.
“We understand that our apartment complex is not the only complex currently dealing with such conditions such as filthy hallways, continuous mice and roach infestations, that is not being attended to by management in a timely matter,” Munene said on behalf of the residents.
Despite living in affordable units, residents are worried about being priced out of their homes, as rents have increased yearly and improvements have been made to the building, Munene said.
Residents’ guests are not being accommodated by management, Munene said.
“The focus should not just be on preserving our structures, but on preserving and stabilizing the community,” Munene said.
Several residents brought signs related to the petition to the council meeting, but as the council does not allow signs in their meetings, they were not allowed to display them.
Park Haven’s management could not be reached for comment at press time.
Alfreda Daniels, a resident of the Willowbrook apartment complex, said landlords have been unresponsive to resident complaints. Mice infestations are an issue in the complex, she said, adding that the city’s code enforcement department has been alerted to the mice issue, but has not held the complex accountable.
While there is an on-site rental office at her apartment building, Daniels said she is not allowed to pay her rent there unless she is making a late payment. Instead, she has to go Minneapolis or mail her payment. This places a burden on residents, she said.
Munene invited council members to attend a March 30 forum, where residents spoke about their experiences as renters.
The forum was held in conjunction with the Assembly for Civil Rights.
At the forum, which was held in Zanewood Community Center, resident Arthur Biah said his father, who does not speak English, is often taken advantaged of by his landlord. While Biah pays for his father’s electricity, the property management entered his apartment without consent and removed his freezer, saying it used too much electricity. Management also disposed of the freezer without consent, he said.
Other residents said property managers are slow to fix issues with infrastructure, plumbing or rodents. Many apartment complexes do not accept Section 8 vouchers or other forms of subsidy, residents said.
While city staff members attended the forum, no Brooklyn Park council members were in attendance. Some council members contacted Munene to alert her that they had prior commitments, she said. Brooklyn Center Councilmember April Graves did attend the forum, however.
At the council’s April 3 work session, City Manager Jay Stroebel said staff members visited the property listed on the petition to talk with the management team. The city is working cooperatively with organizations that report concerns, Stroebel said.
More information will be provided to the council in coming weeks, Stroebel said.

Contact Kevin Miller at [email protected]