The Potluck

Abdi Warsame wins city council approval to lead housing authority, starts March 31

By: - March 27, 2020 3:50 pm
Minneapolis Public Housing Authority

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.

Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame will take the helm of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority on March 31, making him the first Somali-American to lead a government agency in Minnesota.

Warsame’s appointment was confirmed by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday online during a remote meeting.

“I want to offer my congratulations to Council Member Warsame,” said Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, who worked as a policy aide for Warsame. “This is a really critical time for public housing and affordable housing, and so I am thrilled that the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is going to be in really good hands.”

Abdi Warsame would need to resign from his Ward 6 council position to take the helm of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. Photo courtesy of the City of Minneapolis.

A special election for Warsame’s seat will likely be August 11, according to a city spokesperson.

Warsame was the first Somali-American in the country to win a municipal election when he was elected to the council in 2013.

As the CEO/Executive Director of MPHA, Warsame will earn $178,782 a year, the most any government worker can make in Minnesota.

“At this time of great challenge and potential, MPHA will benefit from Abdi Warsame’s leadership and lived experience as we continue our work to preserve public housing, expand opportunities for thousands of families with housing vouchers, and provide a bedrock of housing and financial stability for the 26,000 people we serve across our programs,” a spokesman for the housing authority, Jeff Horwich, said in a statement.

The agency’s interim CEO/Executive Director Tracey Scott was selected to lead the Chicago Housing Authority.

Before joining the city council, Warsame was the executive director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association, which advocates for mostly low-income public housing tenants. He also founded the Citizens Committee for Fair Redistricting in 2012, which helped draw the city’s current ward boundaries.

Warsame did not respond to requests for comment.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.