Abdi Warsame addresses Minneapolis Public Housing Authority board of commissioners on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, before they voted to appoint him as the CEO and executive director of the agency. Credit: Dymanh Chhoun | Sahan Journal

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After six years of serving on the Minneapolis City Council, Abdi Warsame has stepped down in order to assume a new title: CEO of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA). Beginning this week, he will be in charge of public housing in the state’s largest city.

Last Friday, city council members unanimously approved Warsame’s appointment to head the MPHA. Warsame, who could not be reached for comment on Monday afternoon, recused himself from the vote.

He will likely be consumed with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic during his first few months of heading the agency. He acknowledged the pandemic on Monday in his formal City Council resignation letter to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

“Unfortunately, local and worldwide crises have left a mark on our city as well as on this council term,” he wrote. “In facing a lack of affordable housing, to sheltering the homeless, to dealing with a pandemic, this group’s resolve to work on behalf of those in need does not falter.”

In the letter, Warsame wrote that his resignation from the City Council will take effect immediately.

He thanked his fellow council members and constituents in the letter and called his six years of service on the council “a great honor.” Warsame made history in 2013 as the first Somali in Minnesota elected to a city council seat. His new role with the MPHA makes him the first Somali to lead a government agency in the state. 

As MPHA CEO, Warsame will earn an annual salary of $178,782. Frey appointed Warsame to the position in January after he was selected by a search committee. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development waived conflict of interest rules barring public officials from heading housing agencies to allow for Warsame’s new role.


Joey Peters is a reporter for Sahan Journal. He has been a journalist for 15 years. Before joining Sahan Journal, he worked for close to a decade in New Mexico, where his reporting prompted the resignation...