FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How did it get to this point?
Until the past few years Steve Frenz was seen as a prominent and powerful landlord in Minneapolis, owning over 60 buildings across the city. In the public eye he served as President of The Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA) and was lauded as a housing leader in Minneapolis, using the millions of dollars he took as payments from the tenants to donate to his Catholic Church - Our Lady of Peace in Minneapolis - where he served on the Parish Council.
While Frenz and his family lived in a $2.6 million dollar mansion on Lake Harriet families in buildings owned by Frenz experienced the consequences of another face of Frenz. Many tenants who were people of color and low wage workers lived under harsh conditions with complaints including cockroach and mice infestations, mold, water leaks, and other repair issues.
In 2014, tenants began talking with each other and with Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice) to get repairs and better maintenance in the buildings. The two conflicting faces of Frenz began to come to light publicly and privately.
In the process of tenants raising their issues and exercising their rights:
It was discovered that Frenz had lied to the city about ownership of the buildings to obtain rental licenses.
It was discovered that "Frenz engaged in a deliberate and elaborate misrepresentation to inflate the number of occupied units in the property” in an untruthful affidavit to court in an to attempt to dismiss a legal action against him.
Frenz has since lost his rental licenses, is now facing felony perjury charges, and settled a class action lawsuit against him paying out 18.5 million dollars.
See Timeline/History page for more on the history of the campaign up until this point.
Why did he lose his rental licenses?
The City of Minneapolis revoked Steve's rental licenses in 2017, because he hid his business arrangement with the previous building-owner, Spiros Zorbalas. At this time, he is not legally allowed to collect rent from any building in Minneapolis.
How are the tenants planning to purchase the buildings?
Because the families hold a compelling vision to own and run their units cooperatively, the urgency of this housing crisis, and because of the egregious conduct of Steve Frenz an affordable housing partner has stepped up to buy and stabilize the property. Right now this partner has put in an offer of 4.78 million dollars in financing to buy and immediately stabilize the buildings. After this stabilization the cooperative will assume full ownership from them in 1-2 years.
Is anyone besides the tenants interested in buying the buildings?
We are not aware of any other, legitimate purchase offers on the table. The buildings are currently occupied by families who have lived there over 20 years.
Why won't he agree to sell?
Frenz has insisted that money isn't the issue but then makes clear he wants more money for the buildings. The offer on the table takes into account the deteriorated conditions of the buildings which haven't had a landlord for 8 months, years of deferred maintenance, and the significant repairs they will need to bring them out of disrepair and up to housing code compliance and dignified living conditions.
[pictures of disrepair here, mold, etc]
Frenz has said his goal is to evict the families and then renovate the buildings to sell them at a higher price in a rapidly gentrifying area. In negotiations Frenz has tried to use the families in the 5 buildings in Corcoran to get his way at other levels of city government saying he will only negotiate on a sale if the City does what he wants. This is not only unreasonable, but immoral and unjust.
Steve Frenz owns the buildings. Isn't it his right to sell, or refuse to sell, as he wants?
There's a difference between what's just, and what's legally allowed. As we see across the country, our economic system favors wealthy landlords like Steve Frenz and prioritizes their legal rights over the basic well-being of our communities, families, and children. Despite his egregious practices as a landlord, despite his disregard for the laws and regulations around maintaining rental housing, despite the fact that he can no longer legally rent out the units, he is still seen as the decision-maker in the fates of these families.
He may have the legal right to refuse their offer but, more importantly, the tenants have a basic human right to stable housing, and to control of their own living conditions.
Can the evictions be stopped?
Right now, there are legal proceedings underway in housing court regarding eviction of some of the tenants, and they have lawyers who are arguing on their behalf. However, the legal protections for tenants facing eviction aren't sufficient to protect their basic human right to housing, and there's no guarantee of a victory through the court system. That's why the tenants need their neighbors and community to stand with them in resisting the evictions and securing the purchase!
To start receiving text alerts when urgent action is needed to stop these evictions, text "Stay" to 474747.
The Mayor and the City Council talk a lot about solving the housing crisis. Can't they do something about this?
We believe they can.
Time and again, the City finds the resources and the legal workarounds to force initiatives that serve for-profit interests like new stadiums and arenas. And when the City has felt enough community pressure to compel them into action they've also found unprecedented ways to address crises in the community, like their response to the Wall of Forgotten Natives last summer.
It's their job, not ours, to figure out the correct maneuvers to get justice for these tenants. We refuse to accept that Mayor Frey and the Minneapolis City Council can't do more.
What can I do?
There are many ways to stand with the tenants! You can start by signing the pledge, which will put you on an email announcement list and give you the option to opt-in to the emergency texts.
We need all the help we can get turning out support for tenants at events, talking to City officials, and spreading the word in the community. Find out more about what you can do here. [link to get involved]