Mpl. Mayoral candidates come up with plans to resolve housing crisis

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The most active Minneapolis mayoral candidates agree that the city suffers from a severe shortage of affordable housing, but they offer very different solutions.

Mayor Jacob Frey, who took office in 2017 with a promise to increase housing density and cut costs, said that over the past four years he has increased and preserved more affordable housing than n any mayor in the history of the city.

Frey’s main challengers accuse him of dealing with wealthy private developers at the expense of tenants. They say the mayor hasn’t been aggressive enough to keep housing costs from rising and hasn’t created enough homes to meet growing demand.

These challengers – AJ Awed, Clint Conner, Kate Knuth, Sheila Nezhad and Jerrell Perry – also stand out from Frey by their support for rent control, the subject of Question 3 of the Minneapolis poll. Frey says he will vote for charter amendment but opposes rent control, he says

ng that capping a landlord’s ability to raise rents will not solve the housing crisis and disadvantage future tenants.

Of Minneapolis residents, more than half – the majority of whom are people of color and low income – are renters. And more than half of those renters earn less than 60% of the region’s median income.

Opponents of Frey argue that rent control is an essential tool in maintaining affordable housing and preventing displacement. But they disagree on what kind of program Minneapolis should adopt.

Awed, a court mediator, wants “strict rent control with the fewest exemptions” that is indexed to inflation and applies to homeowners who own five or more properties.

Conner, a lawyer who says he has worked with low-income tenants and landlords in Minneapolis on issues related to eviction, discrimination and affordable housing, wants a policy that grants exemptions to landlords of 20 units or less .

Knuth did not provide details but wants a carefully crafted policy that meets the needs of tenants and small landlords without hampering the supply of housing.

Nezhad, who has focused his campaign on “transferring more power to tenants, working class people and homeless people,” favors capping annual rent increases at 3%, the same figure specified in St. Paul’s rent control proposal on the ballot that fall.

Beyond rent control, the candidates proposed various solutions to improve the supply of affordable housing.

Awed wants to tax luxury apartment renters who earn 100% or more of the state’s median area income up to 2% on their monthly rent. The new income would help spur more affordable housing, said Awed, who rents a luxury apartment in Marcy-Holmes.

Two of Frey’s first challengers – Knuth, a homeowner in Bryn Mawr, and Nezhad, a Central Ward tenant – say their plans for housing and public safety go hand in hand. Both say the rising cost of excessive use of force benefits as well as workers’ compensation benefits is putting pressure on spending on affordable housing and other needs.

Knuth and Nezhad support the use of a public housing tax as another source of money to build and rehabilitate public housing.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, the city’s largest residential property owner, serving more than 26,000 residents, has at least $ 152 million in deferred capital needs and owns a growing number of aging skyscrapers, including the one was the scene of a fire that killed five people in 2019.

“Our public housing has been around for a few decades now, so it needs investment to rehabilitate it and bring it up to standard and make it safe and healthy places to live,” said Knuth. “If we don’t get control over policing and public safety, the things we really want to invest in that really create safety, like affordable housing, will be harder and harder to do. “

Nezhad says she wants to explore all options for boosting housing, including converting hotels to one-room residences – which were recently legalized to build in the city – and wants to increase investment for shelters that offer harm reduction services to fight the spread of communicable diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Conner, an owner in the Lowry Hill neighborhood, is “not a big fan of social housing” and does not have it in his plan to strengthen it. He says he wants to see more affordable housing built in the city, which he says requires “huge capital outlays and a long construction period.” In the short term, Connor is proposing to create an additional voucher system in Section 8 at the city level, and he would call on Hennepin County and surrounding communities to help fund it.

Frey, a tenant who lives in the Nicollet Island East Bank neighborhood, said a central feature of his platform removed zoning restrictions in single-family neighborhoods to boost more affordable housing and eliminate racial disparities.

He also cites several programs that he says have worked. One initiative gives homeowners up to 40% off their property taxes if they keep at least one-fifth of their housing affordable for people with household incomes below 60% of the region’s median.

About 1,190 affordable housing units in more than 215 buildings across the city have been preserved under this program, he said.

Frey says her Stable Homes, Stable Schools program has served at least 3,100 homeless children and their families, 95% of whom are people of color. It offers rent assistance to homeless children and their families and encourages landlords to provide affordable housing.

Since 2019, he said, his administration has made permanent at least $ 115 million in funding for housing efforts that have created 273 new units of “deeply” affordable housing. And since taking office, nearly 2,990 affordable housing units have been created or preserved, including 1,355 units for residents earning 30% or less of the region’s median income, he said.

Earlier this year, Frey earmarked $ 28 million from the US bailout for affordable housing, with much of that going to tackle homelessness, which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Perry, a tenant in the Powderhorn neighborhood who works as an advocate for homeless people, said he wanted to expand the Frey’s Stable Homes, Stable Schools program.

He also wants the city to buy buildings to increase the number of social housing because, according to him, many residents are overwhelmed by soaring rents.

“Everyone should be able to afford decent and decent housing,” said Perry, who became homeless six years ago after he could not afford the rising rent on his apartment. in St. Paul.

Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203

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