Rep. Ilhan Omar Discussed Cedar-Riverside Fire Response, Housing Crisis on House Floor

December 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) today discussed the Cedar-Riverside fire, which broke out in a 25-story public housing building in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, and the nationwide housing crisis on the Floor of the House of Representatives. Rep. Omar announced new legislative steps to address the safety of public housing in the coming weeks.


“Last week, families across the country gathered around their dining tables to give thanks and break bread,” Rep. Omar said. “But many families in my home district were not sitting down for a holiday dinner – instead they were facing indescribable tragedy. The day before Thanksgiving, a fire broke out in a 25-story public housing building in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, where I grew up.  5 people lost their lives that day. And more than a week later - residents are still in the hospital recovering from their injuries and from the devastating effects of smoke inhalation. After the brave men and women of the local fire department cleared the scene and controlled the blaze, we discovered an almost unbelievable reality – these homes were not equipped with sprinklers.”

“You see, this building is so old that it’s exempted from laws that require such life-saving equipment. And that isn’t the only egregious safety issue that our public housing residents are forced to endure. There’s been a ban on building new public housing since the 1990s – in fact the Cedar Riverside building that sustained the fire was built in the 1960s. And the federal government has been underfunding the repair and maintenance needs of the homes for years. In Minnesota, the backlog of repair needs totals over $300 million.

“I will be introducing legislation that ensures every public housing unit in this country is equipped with sprinkler so that we never see another devasting tragedy like the one that befell the residents of my district. And I’ll be demanding accountability from HUD – requiring the agency to report on exactly how many units are not fitted with sprinklers and how much money the agency needs to fix this glaring hazard.”

You can watch the video here.