10-28 Rent Control and Stabilization aka VOTE!

Friends who live in Minneapolis and St. Paul, let’s talk about the upcoming ballot. Specifically, let’s talk about the rent control/stabilization measures being considered. I spent a while reading about this last night. Here is where I’m at with it:
Minneapolis desperately needs rent stabilization. Right now, there is not a legislative way to do that. The city charter specifically states that there is no option to do this. That’s a problem.
The current charter amendment in Minneapolis removes that barrier. It doesn’t actually create any rent control/stabilization. It just gives City Council the option to do it in the future. In theory, I support this. In practice, the past year and a half has made me not trust the City Council. Mostly because the City Council tends to be new/young/inexperienced politicians and it feels like they are more likely to be swayed by the loudest voice, not the most informed one.
There has been studies about how rent stabilization might influence the housing market in Minneapolis. I would like to see these be examined and their recommendations followed to create rent stabilization that benefits the most vulnerable among us while continuing to promote healthy housing construction. The only way to make that happen is to vote for the charter amendment in Minneapolis, and then to stay involved in making sure that the rent stabilization proposal that comes next is a real and viable proposal.
Which brings me to St. Paul. There is a proposal in St. Paul for rent control. (Note that I am using different language here. That is intentional.) The St. Paul proposal caps rental increases to 3% in 12 months. There is no exception for change of tenants or for new housing units. These are both important exceptions to help create a healthy market. (Read the Deep Dive post in the links for some more info on that.)
A fixed 3% cap creates a whole host of other problems as well. For once thing, inflation this year is 5%. So, property owners will actually be dropping the value of their rent if they can only increase it by 3% because they won’t have kept up with the rate of inflation. This disincentivizes small landlords – often the folks who have the most Natually Occuring Affordable Housing units – from investing in their current properties or investing in new properties. In short, it seems like it will force people to either sell or become slum lords because they can’t keep rental prices at a rate that is appropriate to the economic situation.
All of which is to say, the St. Paul amendment doesn’t seem like it will work. I’d vote no and advocate for a policy that has a better chance of success from the beginning, not one that is going to need to be modified a whole bunch.

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