The Potluck

Minneapolis council member to lead housing authority

By: - January 29, 2020 3:00 pm

The Hiawatha Towers are among 42 public high-rises managed by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. Photo Courtesy of MPHA.

Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame got the job at the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.

The Sahan Journal reports Warsame was tapped to be the next CEO/Executive Director of MPHA, which serves some 26,000 people through managing the city’s public housing and administering the Housing Choice “Section 8” Voucher Program. It was announced Wednesday at MPHA’s board meeting.

Warsame’s appointment will need to be approved by the Minneapolis City Council, and a special election is expected to be held for his seat since he won’t be able to hold both jobs.

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.

Warsame became the first Somali-American to win a municipal election in 2013 when he was elected to city council. When he takes the helm of the MPCA, he’ll be the first Somali-American to lead a government agency in Minnesota, according to Sahan Journal.

A search committee hired by MPCA recruited Warsame to apply for the job. A former public housing tenant himself, Warsame’s ward also has more public housing high rises than any other ward. About one-third of Minneapolis’s public housing tenants are Somali.

In his application for the job, Warsame wrote about how important stable housing was for his own success:

“Affordable housing played a fundamental role in my family’s ability to forge a path out of poverty. It provided us with financial freedom, independence, stability and security that far too many families simply cannot achieve without assistance. Simply stated, our public housing was our refuge.”

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.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, 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.