The Potluck

Minneapolis council member tries for top job at Housing Authority

By: - January 21, 2020 1:26 pm

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

City Council Member Abdi Warsame, Ward 6, is interviewing for the top job at the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, according to a staff member in Warsame’s office. 

Abdi Warsame

If offered the position, Warsame would not be able to keep his seat on the council. His current term doesn’t end until 2022, so he would need to resign and a special election would be held to fill his seat. 

Warsame’s policy aide Ryan SanCartier said the council member was recruited to apply for the position of Executive Director/CEO. A spokesman at MPHA said he couldn’t comment because the agency’s board had hired a search committee to handle the hiring. 

The MPHA spokesman also said it’s unclear when the board will announce its decision, although it could be in the coming weeks. The new hire will need to be confirmed by the city council. Warsame was not immediately available for comment. 

The massive agency has been without a CEO since summer 2019, when Gregory Russ left to take the helm of the New York City Housing Authority. MPHA serves over 26,000 people in the city through its 6,000-plus public housing units and the 5,000 or so Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers it administers. 

A map showing the boundaries of Ward 6 in Minneapolis. Courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Warsame has had to work closely with MPHA during his six years on the council. His ward includes more MPHA’s high-rise buildings than any other ward. They include the Hiawatha Towers and the Cedar High Apartments, where a deadly fire broke out early on Thanksgiving morning last year. His ward also includes the land along Franklin and Hiawatha avenues, where a sprawling homeless encampment took shape a little over a year ago

Warsame won his seat on the council in November 2013, becoming the first Somali-American to win a municipal election. Before that, he was the Board Chair of the Cedar Riverside-Neighborhood Revitalization Program as well as the Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association.

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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.