Purpose of this report
STRENGTHS AND VULNERABILITIES OF RENTAL HOUSING IN SAINT PAUL’S WEST SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD, is part of a funded project between the City of Saint Paul’s Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Office (HREEO) and the West Side Community Organization to explore rental housing issues, and engage and organize renters on their rights and fair housing practices.
Over the past year, WSCO staff have compiled and distributed resources for tenants and conducted “Know Your Rights” trainings to renters on the West Side. They’ve facilitated action and resolution between renters and landlords. This work continued through the COVID-19 pandemic, where existing housing issues, especially concerning adequacy and affordability, became more pronounced.
Important cold-weather update from the City of St. Paul on support for unsheltered residents:
With the ongoing extreme cold weather, all partners serving our residents experiencing homelessness have continued to actively coordinate support and services to ensure additional resources are available - including additional overnight and day-time capacity.
Updated information from Ramsey County about supporting our residents experiencing homelessness through the harsh weather we anticipate this weekend and into next week.
Dr. King’s Housing Justice Journey
We are inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work for housing justice, a crucial part of the broader struggle for racial justice in the U.S.. Dr. King spoke out against the “dilapidated, inadequate housing” in African American communities when he moved to the Midwest to organize the Chicago Freedom Movement. He led a powerful multiracial coalition of Black, Latino, Polish, and Jewish renters who laid the foundation for passing the Fair Housing Act, a victory he referred to as “the ﬁrst step in a 1,000-mile journey.’’
El camino hacia una vivienda digna
Nos inspira el trabajo de Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. en la lucha por una vivienda digna, una parte esencial del movimiento por la justicia racial en los estados unidos. Al mudarse al Midwest para organizar el Chicago Freedom Movement, Dr. King denunció las condiciones “ruinosas e inadecuadas” en las comunidades Afro-americanas. Dirigió una coalición multiracial de inquilinos Negros, Latinos, Polacos, y Judíos que construyeron una base para luego pasar la ley de Vivienda Justa (Fair Housing Act). Fue una victoria que él nombraba “el primer paso en un camino de 1,000 millas.”
A message to our neighbors about staying safe this weekend:
We want to share an update from local public officials about potential high-risk events happening January 16th and 17th in Saint Paul. Two events are being planned by “Hold The Line MN,” an extremist group that organized a “Storm the Capitol” event last week and harassed our local representative Carlos Mariani in his home. For a full statement from WSCO on recent white supremacist threats to our democracy click here.
A nuestros vecinos, vecinas, y vecinxs del West Side:
Cuando hay amenazas hacia nuestras comunidades, no podemos guardar silencio. Hace una semana, hubo un ataque de grupos de supremacistas blancos en el capitolio de Washington, D.C. Aquí en el West Side, pocos días antes, el hogar de nuestro representante Carlos Mariani estaba rodeado de un grupo grande de personas blancas, armadas, con banderas de Trump * (como vean en la foto). Estos grupos de odio siguen agrediendo a comunidades de color, mientras la policia no nos defiende a todos por igual. ** Pero tenemos un mensaje claro y firme para nuestros vecinos: el pueblo respalda al pueblo.
To our neighbors on the West Side,
When our communities are threatened, we can’t remain silent. It has been a week since the attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. by white nationalist mobs and militias. Days before, right here on the West Side, Representative Carlos Mariani’s home was surrounded by a large group of armed white people with Trump flags (pictured here).* As hate-fueled groups continue to target communities of color, and as law enforcement fails to serve and protect all of us equally,** we have a message for our neighbors: we’ve got each other.
Last week, more than 100 West Side neighbors attended our first-ever virtual annual meeting! Together, we celebrated 2020 accomplishments, envisioned a just and joyful West Side, and looked ahead to what we’ll accomplish in 2021 and beyond. We're so excited and grateful that we've got each other. Watch the annual meeting on YouTube.
Also, check out this one-pager summarizing what we accomplished together this year and what we're looking forward to in the years to come!
Honoring outstanding West Siders
This year, we received so many nominations for West Sider of the Year, that we decided to celebrate outstanding West Siders with not one award – but three! Learn more about these outstanding West Siders and watch videos of them receiving their awards! Here are the folks we're honoring this year!
- 2020 Spark of the West Side: Payton Ortiz & his Grandfather Dan Wolff, and Mother Anna Wolff
- 2020 Heart of the West Side: Jesus Ramirez
- 2020 West Sider of the Year: Maria McNamara
Meet our newly elected (or re-elected) board members!
At the meeting, West Siders voted for the WSCO board members who will start terms in 2021. The results are in! You and your neighbors
- re-elected Kim Moua;
- elected Teresa Zaffiro and Mario Páez; and
- selected alternates Sebastian Ellefson and Marcus Troy.
Meet the members of WSCO’s Equitable Development Scorecard Team!
This spring, we were going to host a party to celebrate the members of our Equitable Development Scorecard Team – but we missed our opportunity as we readjusted to life in a pandemic. Thankfully, we got to introduce this team to West Siders during our annual meeting!
The Equitable Development Scorecard is a tool developed by West Siders, for West Siders to decide whether we, the community, support development projects and other investments proposed for our neighborhood. While all West Siders can use the Scorecard, the Equitable Development Scorecard Team leads efforts to open conversation with developers, score proposed projects and engage with their neighbors for feedback and discussion. Read more about the members of our current Scorecard team!
A huge thank-you to Captain Ken’s Food for their chili donation! It’s been a decades-long tradition to eat chili at WSCO annual meetings, and we’re grateful that Captain Ken made sure a pandemic didn’t get in the way of that! We’re also incredibly grateful to vocalist Jamela Pettiford for sharing a powerful land acknowledgement to set the tone for our meeting.
We can't wait to get to know you better!
For those of you who are new to WSCO, welcome! For those of you who are not, welcome back! We’re looking forward to getting to know everyone a little better in 2021. We’ll keep you informed of opportunities to get involved via our newsletter (sign up here) and on social media (follow us on Facebook and Twitter). Don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] with questions or feedback. We want to hear from you!
Here are three ways you can get involved right now!
- Fill out this commitment form to tell us a little more about yourself and how you’d like to get involved on the West Side.
Register for our next West Side Voices Forum on Tuesday, December 8. The West Side Voices Forum is WSCO’s monthly meeting. We get together to discuss important things happening in our neighborhood and organize within our five Action Circles:
- Land Use: ensuring new development benefits West Siders
- Community Care: investing in life-affirming public safety
- West Side 100: organizing for 100% voter turnout and staying engaged to hold elected leaders accountable
- Health and Environmental Justice: fighting for systems that ensure access to healthy natural spaces, good food, and clean air and water
- Housing Justice: demanding safe, quality, affordable housing for all West Siders
- Donate to WSCO. Invest in us so that, together, we can continue building power for a just and joyful West Side!