Listen: Foreclosure fight at Little Earth with Clyde Bellecourt

MPR’s Dan Olson reports on fight to keep open Little Earth, a housing project of 212 units of relatively inexpensive housing located at Franklin and Cedar in Minneapolis. It is also one of the centers of the Minneapolis Indian community. Report includes commentary from Little Earth board member Clyde Bellecourt and Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser.


(00:00:03) Broken windows torn screens and empty and cracked swimming pool. Those are a few of the outward signs of the Decay that is working on little Earth inner signs of Decay are on paper the fault of over a million dollars in mortgage payments to the federal government months of uncollected rents from some tenants, but whatever the financial or physical problems little Earth represents a precious resource. It is 212 units of relatively inexpensive housing in a city where housing generally is in short supply. Little Earth is also one of the centers of the Minneapolis Indian Community the Thousand or so people who live at little Earth near Franklin and Cedar reside near the regional Native American Center and other Indians who have chosen to live in the area Clyde bellecourt claims little Earth is the only Indian owned and managed housing project in the country. Bellacourt is a little Earth board member the Project's stucco clad two-story townhouses are always full and in time such as this bellacourt says they're bursting at the
(00:00:59) seams people come here on a regular. Bases families come day in and day and night sometime a truck with Furniture people are double up and tripled up and two bedroom apartments right here our little Earth because there's no other place to stay. We are merely an unannounced initiate an Indian Survival Camp and it's a established in a shelter. Here are lower that you can see with the teepees that are being erected. We are going to start housing some of these people are sleeping on Floors basements of churches and garages and under the bridges and parts and throughout the City of Minneapolis and start I need once again not only for to save little Earth keep it under the control of the Indian Community, but to demonstrate the overall needs of housing not just for hitting people, but for people in general
(00:01:43) the overuse of little Earth by residents and visitors has contributed to the physical Decay virtually. No one is refused shelter. The Decay on paper is more difficult to trace there's evidence of neglect by previous project owners and managers uncollected rents. And the inability to raise rents are cited as contributing to both the physical and financial decay. If the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as the mortgage holder has decided to settle the matter it notified the American Indian movement this week that unless A man gives up ownership hires a hud-approved manager gets a city commitment for one and a half million in repair funds and arranges for new mortgage financing unless the little Earth board performs those tasks by Monday, August 16th. HUD will foreclose William Cooley. The Twin Cities developer is one of the new little Earth board members. He joins five other new members. All non-indians their appointment this summer to an expanded 12-member board was to meet one of the conditions set by Hud before its most recent foreclosure threat
(00:02:40) the demands that are placed on the board by Hud are totally unreasonable and being a board member with a fiduciary responsibility. You cannot act in the manner that HUD is set forth without violating number one, somebody's rights and number two without making a bad business deal. They put little Earth in a position where it's required that a fire sale Beacon. Ducted and that is a nobody's best
(00:03:04) interest when appointed earlier this summer Cooley and other board members embarked on what can only be described as an ambitious attempt to reform little Earth's physical and physical condition. They sought and have Apparently one a management agreement with a company which may be acceptable to HUD. Also. The board is attempting to Syndicate literally sell shares of the project Mankato developer art Petrie a business associate of Cooley's has been enlisted in the syndication Endeavor. The City of Minneapolis has been asked to contribute a million and a half dollars to Over the cost of repairs another stipulation set by Hud. The city has responded with expressions of sympathy and a site review by the Community Development Agency for possible designation as a tax increment financing District that would allow the sale of bonds, but the process will take much longer than the Monday deadline set by Hud. And in any case Mayor Don Fraser is guarded in his prediction of the city's ability to help the little Earth Project one of the problems we face as a city is very tight availability of money. We would undoubtedly be using Community Development block grant
(00:04:04) funds for this and those funds are already programmed. So it'd be very difficult to come up with a substantial sum of money.
(00:04:11) But I at this point we're still in the inquiry stage little Earth owners are seeking a court injunction to Halt Hud's foreclosure. If an injunction is not granted the 1,000 residents of little Earth will not be thrown out. They'll have new landlords. But if the new owners raise rents the action may cause some residents to leave most of little Earth residents are women with children. Turn on some form of Public Assistance in Minneapolis. This is Dan Olson reporting.


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