Breaking News
More () »

U of M students testify to lawmakers about 'troubling' situation at new apartment complex

Identity Dinkytown was supposed to open at the end of August, but students are still not allowed to move in.

MINNEAPOLIS — It's a story first reported back in August, University of Minnesota students ready to start a new school year find out the apartment complex they were supposed to move into wasn't ready.

On Wednesday, some of those students took their concerns to the state Capitol. 

In a joint hearing of the Senate Housing and Homeless Prevention Committee and the Senate Higher Education Committee, lawmakers said they intend to make student renter protections a priority in the next session.

But that doesn't help any of them now, as some are still scrambling to find permanent housing.

"My biggest concern right now is safety," said junior Wadj Suliman. 

Suliman said the builder told her and other tenants they could move in on Aug. 27, even collecting first month's rent, before admitting the next day that construction was behind schedule.

The builder, CA Ventures, even failed a safety inspection and then a group of people recently filed a lawsuit against them. CA Ventures has denied KARE 11's interview requests multiple times since the first report on Aug. 3, 2023.

"I urge you to pass legislation that will keep anything like this from happening in the state of Minnesota from ever happening again," said student Emalyn Goodart. "Students deserve to have their needs met by the landlord when something like this happens, and those needs include the option to be let out of a lease."

President of the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association, which includes Dinkytown, Vic Thorstenson, says private equity real estate firms are changing how communities are being built. 

"It's become a matter of who is owning these buildings and running them, and it's not mom and pop landlords anymore," said Thorstenson. "Their first priority is to their shareholders and not to the tenants and not to the parents paying the rent in most cases. And it certainly isn’t to the neighborhoods around them."

It's unclear if the city can take action against Identity Dinkytown, only confirming the complex hasn't scheduled another safety inspection.

Lawmakers say they plan to investigate the effects this problem has on housing all across the state in the next legislative session.

"It's just how I feel about the entire management right now, is that I just can't trust them," said Suliman. 

Identity Dinkytown has offered tenants gift cards and other housing at a nearby hotel.

They were also invited to the public hearing, but lawmakers said they declined to attend due to short notice, despite being told two weeks ago. 

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out