The sad reality is that this is another in a long line of classic acts of political theater where the "smoke and mirrors" style distracting confusion of bureaucracy, works cooperatively with political agents to give people the appearance of something, that is in actuality, nothing at all.  The 2 amendments can be summarized this way, 1.) A potential public vote on whether or not to allow the city council to consider the idea of imposing some form of rent controls in the future.  2.) A potential public vote on whether or not to allow residents to vote on whether or not to allow the consideration of some form of rent controls in the future.

 

In other words, nothing is fixed or certain, and everything is "to be determined", and that's only a maybe.

 

What I'd really like people reading this to understand is that there are real solutions to this problem.  This is a problem, and affordable housing affects literally hundreds of thousands of people in the metro area.  Our city definitely does need some fixed guidelines, rules and regulations which help curb excessive rent increases.  But we also need intelligent planning and strategies that work. Not old ideas that have already been proven to have at least as many or more guaranteed negative impacts as there are potential positive impacts.  (I would encourage people to read the following reports about actual evidentiary-based analyses of other cities and other efforts to institute rent controls...all from the first page of a google search of "rent control")

 

https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-does-economic-evidence-tell-us-about-the-effects-of-rent-control/

 

https://freakonomics.com/podcast/rent-control/

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/15/comeback-rent-control-just-time-make-housing-shortages-worse/

 

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/09/19/rent-control-will-make-housing-shortages-worse

 

https://www.manhattan-institute.org/issues-2020-rent-control-does-not-make-housing-more-affordable

 

There are a set of strategies that we can use to help us improve affordability and limit excessive rent costs. A certain level of intelligent rental regulatuion in a city like MInneapolis, seems completely necessary and useful, but it has to be done through a measured and inclusive process that includes all the various participants in the marketplace.  Rental housing is very much definied by the supply and demand structure of pricing.  When there are lots of available rental units, the prices go down, when there are not enough rental units to go around, the prices do up. In manys way, it really is that simple.  The best, easiest and most effective way to control rental pricing, is by controlling supply and demand. 

 

We can increase supply a number of ways.  1.) Attract new developments. 2.) Repurpose existing buildings for affordable housing. 3.) Restructure our zoning rules and laws to allow for single family homes to be remodled into multi-unit residences.  3.) Require all new developments to provide an appropriate measure of off-setting affordable housing, either within the development itself, or though a separate development package. 4.) Incentivize and asisst moving viable renters into homeownership. 

 

You may already understand that some of these concepts would have the dual effect of increasing the supply, and also, simultaneously, decreasing the demand.  

 

While the proposals at the top of this page are not complete nor are they proven to be effective, the proposals listed here are both.  This is why a comprehnesive and intelligent strategy based on achieving a focused end result, is the right way to attack this problem.  Rather than looking for a political home run, popular tag lines and rallying cries, that ultimately burn up and scatter like dried ash into the winds of the next political argument, we need to elect competent leaders who care more about realistically getting something done than they do about generating catchy press release headlines and getting themselves re-elected.

 

 

The following (long) quote is from JW Mason a rent control advocate.  I include it because this is a guy who is really arguing in favor of rent control. 

 

"First, rent control needs to be combined with other measures to create more affordable housing. The main goals of rent regulation are to protect renters’ legitimate interest in remaining in their homes; to advance the social interest in stable, mixed-income neighborhoods; and to curb the market power of landlords. Other measures, including subsidies and incentives, reforms to land-use rules, and public investment in social housing, are needed to increase the supply of affordable housing. These two approaches should be seen as complements.

Second, there are good reasons that most existing rent control focuses on rent increases rather than the absolute level of rents. Rent control structured this way allows new housing to claim the market rent, giving the developer a chance to recover the costs of construction. Rent increases many years after the building is finished are more likely to reflect changes in the value of the location, rather than the costs of production. From the point of view of allowing existing tenants to remain in their homes, it is also makes sense to focus on increases, rather than the absolute level of rents.

Third, since rent regulation is aimed at the monopoly rents claimed by landlords, it should allow for reasonable rent increases to reflect increased costs of maintaining a building. At the same time, there is a danger that landlords will engage in unneeded improvements if this allows them to raise rents more than they would otherwise be allowed to. A natural way to balance this is to adjust the allowable rent increase each year based on some measure of average costs or a broader price index, as in the current Jersey City law.

Fourth, for rent control to be effective, tenants also need to be protected from the threat of eviction or other pressure from landlords. To give renters genuine security in their homes, they need an automatic right to renew their lease, unless the landlord can demonstrate nonpayment of rent or other good cause.

Fifth rent control is more likely to have perverse effects when the controls are incomplete. When rent regulations do reduce the supply of affordable rental housing, this is typically because they have loopholes allowing landlords to escape the regulations. In particular, vacancy decontrol or allowing larger rent increases on vacancy significantly reduces the impact of rent control and may encourage landlords to push out existing tenants. There is also some evidence that landlords seek to avoid rent regulation by converting rental units into units for sale. To avoid these kinds of unintended consequences, rent regulations should be as comprehensive as possible, and options to remove units from the regulated market need to be closed off wherever possible..."  https://jacobinmag.com/2019/11/rent-control-housing-crisis-affordability-supply

 
 

 

 

Rent Stabilization Amendment

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about the general concept of Rent Control and specifically, the "Rent Stabilization" charter amendments.  

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