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Minneapolis renters’ input informs new housing-stability proposals

South Minneapolis apartments
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Minneapolis routinely ranks in the top of lists of U.S. cities with the largest gaps between white and black citizens, and a lack of stable housing is a big reason for that disparity.

“My story? I’m a tenant, I live in the Steve Frenz’s apartments and I’ve been trying to have stable housing,” said Chloe Jackson, a long-time renter in south Minneapolis.

Jackson, who has been working for years with the Minneapolis renters advocacy group InquilinXs UnidXs por Justicia on increasing renters’ rights, has been encouraged by a new set of proposals in Minneapolis that is designed to give more security to the city’s most vulnerable tenants.

“People have life happen to them,” Jackson said about why housing stability is such a persistent problem. “They have emergency situations, or a family member passes away or something like that. And if they do fall behind and the landlord goes to evict them, they have to come up with $3,000. The first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit. That’s too much.” Then there is what happens after an eviction.

The struggle between rent and circumstance is familiar territory for anyone who’s read about evictions lately. Three years ago, when sociologist Matthew Desmond’s award-winning book on evictions in Milwaukee came out, the narrative shed new light on how poor people  survive in most American cities.

The book’s main characters, mostly African-American women, struggle to escape the complex cycle of poverty and substandard housing in their Milwaukee neighborhoods. As the stories unfold, small circumstances, like an unexpected funeral, or allowing a friend to stay on a couch, throw the book’s subjects into eviction courts, where added fees can lead to an endless cycle of instability.

Milwaukee and Minneapolis have a lot in common when it comes to segregation and housing pressures. Both cities routinely rank in the top of lists of U.S. cities with the largest gaps between white and black citizens, and a lack of stable housing is a big reason for that disparity.

The Minneapolis equivalents of Desmond’s northwest Milwaukee neighborhoods are probably two ZIP codes in north Minneapolis, around the Fulton, Jordan, Folwell, and Hawthorne neighborhoods. These parts of the city have some of the most entrenched poverty, combined with a legacy of racial segregation and unequal investment. The area has also been the focus of a recent draft report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) released May 30, detailing facts and stories from renters and landlords from the two ZIP codes. Despite accounting for only 8 percent of the county’s rental units, these neighborhoods are home to half of its eviction proceedings.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Dr. Brittany Lewis delivering a presentation on her research to a standing-room-only crowd at UROC in north Minneapolis on May 30.

The report, “The Illusion of Choice,” whose chief investigator was Brittany Lewis, senior research associate at CURA, highlights the experiences of women and men who have struggled to find stable housing in the area. One detail that jumps out: Many of the tenants surveyed were so desperate to find a place to live that they had little choice in their apartment. And when the survey participants were evicted from their homes, often for falling behind on rent, over half experienced homelessness.

Always present, not always visible

Instability in the housing market is nothing new, especially for people dealing with poverty, racism, or other barriers. But it’s an issue that is rarely covered in press accounts, and often the issue only seems to emerge when there’s a particularly tragic event, or when visible homelessness is on the rise.

“So these ideas have been around for a while,” said Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis City Council member for the Fifth Ward, who represents the area in the CURA study. “It’s no secret that folks with [evictions] on their record, or criminal records, often are iced out of the housing market for extremely long periods of time.”

The focus on evictions, technically known as an unlawful detainers (UDs), is one of the new efforts behind the drafting of an ordinance proposal that Ellison and Council President Lisa Bender are floating at City Hall.

The proposal stems from a community meeting that Ellison held last fall, what he called a “renters assembly” that brought together as many area renters and landlords as possible to discuss how to solve ongoing issues of housing instability.

Unlike most of the city’s public engagement approaches — which tend to focus on the needs and concerns of homeowners, who are often perceived to care more about their community — this one was specifically geared toward renters, a group that together makes up over half the city population.

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison
Council Member Jeremiah Ellison
For Ellison, this was a deliberate approach.

“[Reaching out to renters] becomes a kind of a bat signal,” Ellison explained. “People see that and they know that their voices are going to be welcomed. They are not going to be ignored, and their commitment to the community is not going to be questioned. In a city that is majority renter, it’s important that we not make assumptions that someone who owns is more invested in a community than someone who rents.”

Coming out of the meeting, Ellison and Bender, who held a similar meeting in her south Minneapolis ward, put together a draft proposal that they hope will stabilize housing affordability and availability for people who often have the most trouble finding housing.

The proposal has two key suggestions. The first is a so-called “limited lookback” rule, where most landlords, while screening tenants, would be unable to consider information about criminal records or evictions past a certain point in time.

“We want to make sure that the mistakes of the past don’t end up becoming a life sentence for folks moving forward,” said Ellison. “Stable housing and dignified housing also prevents people from falling back into habits and lifestyles that led them to have that criminal record in the first place.”

The second part of the proposal involves setting a cap on how much landlords can require for leases and deposits. Landlords would be limited in how they can use so-called “double deposits,” where tenants have to pay the first and last month’s rent in advance. If so, the security deposit would be capped at half of one month’s rent, lessening the up-front burden for folks looking for housing.

vacancy chart
Metropolitan Council
The issue of housing stability, and the balance between renters’ and landlords’ rights, has grown more acute with the ongoing housing shortage citywide — which puts added pressure on the city’s housing stock and has placed vacancy rates below the “healthy” 5 percent threshold for years. In general, the shortage gives landlords more power over tenants.

Correction and update: Until Wednesday, drafts of the ordinance existed but had not been circulated to the general public. They are now available here (click on Renter Protection Policies).

Ellison and Bender have not reached the point of scheduling a public hearing. Instead, Ellison said they are open to receiving feedback from the public about the proposed changes, and encouraged anyone interested to email or call their offices.

Pushback from landlords’ group

So far, the City Council is receiving plenty of feedback from the city’s landlords. A trade industry group, the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, has already launched a coordinated effort to stop the ordinance. The campaign involves a website and lawn signs, and hot pink lawn placards calling for SAFE & AFFORDABLE NEIGHBORHOODS MINNEAPOLIS are on display now in apartment yards around the city.

“Speaking as industry leaders here, there’s a reason everyone is so mad and frustrated,” said Joe Abraham, an MHA board member who owns 250 apartments in Minneapolis. “City policymakers who don’t know the scope of the problem come to us and say ‘you have a problem,’ but we don’t even know what the problem is. Even worse, they have come up with a solution based on stealing from other cities. It’s frustrating and disingenuous to not even involve the experts.”

The MHA is upset about not being included in the ordinance drafting process, and has released a flurry of public letters and press conferences to outline their problems with the proposals. For one thing, they believe that the ordinance will only reduce the amount of housing being built around the city, tightening an already tight market.

“It makes it more expensive to operate,” explained Bernadette Hornig, an MHA board member who owns a Twin Cites housing company. “To meet your debt-service coverage ratio, a lot of projects are underwritten very closely by big national lenders. Well, they’re going to have a hard time securing financing.”

According to Hornig, the proposal will also raise costs of insurance. With a riskier tenant pool, she predicts insurance costs could rise by 40 percent, further reducing the amount of housing built in the city. The MHA would rather see the city focus on increasing housing supply, rather than introduce new regulations around tenant screening.

“The real issue in this city is there is essentially no vacancy,”said Abraham. “You’ll hear about the vacancy rate, but that’s all at the higher-end luxury Class A apartments, the new stuff. For any developed, NOAH [naturally occurring affordable housing] or deep affordable categories, we’re really at no vacancy. That’s a problem that everyone has identified, and we’re all in sync with that. There’s only one way you solve that problem, and it’s right from macroeconomics class. You gotta produce. All this other stuff to me, it’s total noise.”

Hornig, Abraham, and the rest of the MHA are hoping Minneapolis decision-makers start over, and the lawn sign campaign is intended to connect with enough renters around the city and put pressure on the City Council. “These [ordinance proposals] need to be thrown in the recycling bin,” declared Abraham. “They should come back and put in some real work, and determine what the problem is here. Then you go to the sector that can solve that problem, the experts that are doing it, and let us know how we can partner with you to solve the problem.”

The hostility between the landlords and the City Council comes as a bit of a surprise to Council Member Ellison, who insists that landlords have had a seat at the table throughout the process.

“We’ve had stakeholder meetings with both for-profit and nonprofit landlords, and we’ve gotten feedback,” Ellison said. “I know the MHA has taken the stance they don’t want to give feedback on these issues, that they’d rather we did not pursue these solutions at all. But up until this thing is passed, we’re open to hearing anybody’s feedback and taking meetings and doing our best to incorporate them into a strategy that address the problems that renters are facing, and addresses the concerns that landlords have.”

For her part, Chloe Jackson, in South Minneapolis, is encouraged by the proposals. She sees them as a long-overdue balancing of the scales that have been tilted against vulnerable renters for years.

“Yes, I would love to see more of this,” Jackson said. “Renters, we don’t have rights. And so them allowing this, just telling us about this, it’s amazing.”

Comments (28)

  1. Submitted by lisa miller on 06/12/2019 - 10:32 am.

    The concern is that if people pull out of renting, prices go higher. People may be at the table, but are they listened to. I agree there are some lousy landlords who have gotten by with no or little upkeep on apartments. Housing court is a great option for mediation and having lawyers to assist tenants is paramount. As is housing codes enforcement so that it does not fall to tenants to pursue complaints and be open to retaliation. But overregulating landlords may backfire if people start to raise rents so they don’t have to deal with section 8 or pull out all together.

    • Submitted by Matthew Steele on 06/12/2019 - 02:29 pm.

      I’m still not sure where I stand on all of these proposals, but I’m not seeing how prices would go higher on the supply side of the equation – we have an existing housing stock with an existing number of units whether or not they’re rented or owner-occupied or whatever else. If anything, our biggest challenge is adding new housing units, since according to the Met Council our housing unit growth has lagged household growth by over 38% since 2000. I find this line of reasoning interesting considering lots of the Mpls 2040 opposition was “we want to protect and increase owner-occupied housing stock” but now it’s “we want to protect the rental housing stock.

  2. Submitted by Betsy Larey on 06/12/2019 - 11:04 am.

    Landlords are in business to make money. If you add regulations making that harder, there are many other ways to make money. If you have marginal renters, and do not get a deposit or last month deposit, you can lose a lot of money.
    It sure sounds like the city should be building apartments and get into the business of renting them out. You can’t expect the private sector to take losses like this.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2019 - 03:59 pm.

    I don’t think any property owner who claims to want higher vacancy rates is being truly honest. Those low vacancy rates are keeping their properties more profitable and I don’t think they’re an accident or the result of city regulations. When these guys say someone’s got to add more low end capacity it just doesn’t strike me a sincere solution.

    As for the cost of some of Ellison’s proposals I’d want to see some hard copy on those insurance rates and what not. You can’t blame people for trying to protect their margins but landlords have a good run for several decades now. Even at $800 a month a guy with 225 apartments is making $180k a month, that’s $2.26 million a year, so how much exactly IS this insurance their talking about? And you’re telling us with that kind of income and property you can’t get any loans? Let’s just say I’m skeptical. We can talk about 40% increases in insurance but for all we know we’re talking about $50 a month worth of insurance per unit.

    • Submitted by Robert Kohns on 09/21/2019 - 10:59 am.

      The math is more like this: Buy an apartment building at a 5% return using no debt and expect 3% vacancy and rent loss. Put debt on a smaller building and pay 4% interest. Landlord makes profit of 1%. On a $1m building this is $10,000. One eviction with mild property damage cost $5,000. Now the owner’s profit dropped by 50%! So for a $1m investment they make 1/2% return. Rent increases are a pass thru of expenses. The riskier those expenses the more rent goes up. Minneapolis is already one of the legally most renter friendly places in the country. This is what drives rents up and security deposits up. If renters want a stable life try not having a criminal record, a job and pay your bills. Don’t look for a handout. Give yourself a hand up. This is America. Nobody is poor their entire life unless they elect to be. Invest (deferred gratification) in yourself and you will succeed.

  4. Submitted by andrea McClain on 06/12/2019 - 05:54 pm.

    The reason housing in Minneapolis specifically has gone up is because the City now mandates owners accept section8 vouchers. Those that didn’t want to and never wanted to participate in that program simply raised their rents to a level above what a voucher would be or a voucher holder would be willing to pay. Unintended consequences. Regarding renting to people with evictions or criminal records, well, owners of buildings are running a business. If someone hasn’t paid rent in the past, it’s a good indication of how they will pay in the future. Criminal records? What about the safety of all the non-criminals in the same building? This is one more way for the. Ugh if Minneapolis to dog in and control private businesses. It’s not right, they don’t know what they are doing (as was the case of the mandated section 8) and this will most likely pass because of the misguided and ignorant intentions of these council members.
    Stay out of private business operations. Build, own and operate your own apartment buildings if you think this is so easy to do. And above all, don’t give someone the incentive to NOT PAY their rent!!!

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2019 - 08:45 am.

      Landlords don’t raise rent because of section 8 renters, they raises rents to make more money, and they do that no matter who they rent to. Rental prices have been rising across the board regardless of the section 8 program.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/14/2019 - 10:25 am.

        Yes, the Section 8 waiting list just recently reopened. I know someone who is applying for it, a perfectly respectable 75-year-old woman with a low income.

        That’s what a lot of right-wingers don’t understand. The stereotype of the typical Section 8 participant– a single mother with a pack of out-of-control children and a gang member boyfriend who sells drugs on the front steps–is untrue.

        That’s not to say that there are no such individuals in the program, but people can be poor for any number of reasons: long-term unemployment (people over 50 who have been thrown on the scrap heap and can now find only part-time and short-term employment), disability, medical debt, a failed business, a divorce that displaces a woman who thought she would never have to work outside the home.

        The Twin Cities simply do not have enough low- and middle-income rental housing for those who need it, and all that is being built are overpriced square boxes with thin walls.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/14/2019 - 12:35 pm.

          Yes, the Section 8 people I know are all folks with disabilities on fixed incomes. And people like that don’t typically have much of a credit history because they’ve never had credit cards to begin with. They’ve always paid their bills, but they pay out of fixed budgets, they don’t carry debt.

  5. Submitted by Max Hailperin on 06/13/2019 - 07:09 am.

    The landlords are of course right that loosening their screening of tenants and decreasing the amount of up-front money will increase some of their costs as they’ll take on some more bad debt and increased insurance premiums. Given that the actual quantitative relationship between a proposed policy change and the costs is uncertain, and given that the landlords are trying to advocate against the policy change, I would expect them to focus on the upper end of the range of uncertainty. An example may be that 40% number for insurance, which strikes me as suspiciously high—the kind of number where someone was straining to imagine just how much increase might conceivably occur, rather than what a best estimate was. But this potential exaggeration of the size of the effect doesn’t change the reality that yes, the proposed policy changes would lead to some increased costs. At a community level, those increased costs would surely be outweighed by decreased costs elsewhere. Housing instability is incredibly expensive, but most of the costs don’t fall on the landlord. So in principle what is needed to a way to recapture some of the savings elsewhere and funnel it to the landlords. In that context, an interesting thought experiment is to imagine setting up a program where landlords who voluntarily agree to the changed policies are rewarded with a tax credit for doing so, and the amount of that credit is established by competitive bidding amongst the landlords. I bet their bids would be based on much more careful estimation than their current advocacy is.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2019 - 08:28 am.

    By the way, the graph presented is seriously wrong from a statistical perspective for several reasons. I know the supply and demand thesis is pernicious and popular in some quarters but you can’t or at shouldn’t bend data to support it. This graph makes it look like there some kind of correlation or association between vacancy rates and rent price increases, but it a garbage graph.

    The graph compares apples and oranges, rates to dollar amounts- you can’t put two completely different measurements on the same graph, that’s statistics 101 stuff. You also can’t compare an averaged metric to a non-averaged “rate”.

    What you end up with here is a graph that makes 20+% average rent increase that look like it mirrors a .5% drop in vacancy rates, that’s obviously goofy. If you wanted to do something like this you’d have to convert the rate into an average and the dollar amount into a percentage. If you did that you see the vacancy rate average hover around a more or less stable rate of 5% while the rents go up by 20%-25%. You get a pretty flat line representing the vacancy rate and much steeper incline line representing rental prices.

    Look, it’s simple: If you’re going to claim that half a percent decrease in vacancy rates triggers a 20% increase in rental prices show us your data. Show us your table that reliably predicts a 20% increase or decrease of rental prices associated with .5% increases or decreases in vacancy rates. If you can’t show us this evidence then stop making the claim, and don’t show us garbage graphs like this.

    • Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 06/13/2019 - 08:54 am.

      Paul, the chart is from this recent report:

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/14/2019 - 07:41 am.

        Mr. Lindeke,

        Yes, I noticed the source before I wrote my comment. The graph is still “wrong” and misleading. You see this a lot in non- peer reviewed “reports” that don’t conform to scientific standards.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/13/2019 - 12:02 pm.

      Supply and demand is not a thesis. Its not a radical idea. It is the basic fundamental of all economics, no matter what ideology or economic theory you subscribe to. Supply and demand is like gravity.

      And yes, scarcity in housing (as with scarcity with just about anything) drives up prices.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/14/2019 - 08:20 am.


        Repeating a false claim does not make it “true”, even if you repeat it a lot.

        S&D is NOT the foundational principle of economics you (and others) always claim it to be, it’s just a popular one that a lot of people are familiar with.

        In fact S&D is just one of many possible factors that can influence prices in certain scenarios, and housing is not one of those scenarios unless a market collapses. And even market collapses won’t necessarily yield more affordable housing; the Great Recession didn’t yield affordable housing for instance because banks, landlords, and developers were willing to sit on vacant property until prices rebounded.

        You would only see excess-supply driven price reductions in the housing market if developers and builders were to literally flood the market with unnecessary units in a short period of time or if the population plummeted for some reason. The last time we saw significant reductions in urban rental prices was during the suburban flights of the 50s and 60s that depopulated cities. But you guys are all about “density”, you expect that increasing populations will decrease rental prices, it’s literally irrational.

        Since rational actors don’t generally engage in irrational business practices, and the population is not plummeting, your prescription for affordable housing is rather like a car dealer expecting Santa Claus will drop off a new fleet of inexpensive cars over the weekend. You can’t simply “encourage” developers to flood the market, and if you subsidize excess housing your just talking about subsidized housing, not supply and demand.

        So when you guys are ready to put this supply and demand nonsense aside and have a serious conversation about affordable housing let us know. In the meantime we’ll just note that it’s been two decades or more now, and despite several building booms the prices keep going up.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2019 - 08:42 am.

    Looking at the comments here I think it’s important to remember that landlords, developers, and builders are no more entitled or guaranteed to make as much money as they want than any other business person. Profits go up and down for a variety of reasons but no profits are ever guaranteed to remain at a certain level. And we need to remember that ALL profits come at a cost to someone else.

    We can’t blame landlords for trying to protect their profit margins, but we also can’t organize housing policy around a principle that we have to guaranty current profit margins.

    We can also expect that landlords and those representing them will exaggerate the costs in order to make arguments that seek to protect their profit margins. That’s not to accuse them of being dishonest per se, but they will work in their own best interest. When someone gives you a figure like “49%” instead of a dollar amount you have take that with a grain of salt because they’re NOT telling the dollar amount… 40% of how much? For all we know we’re talking about 40% of $20, and we still don’t where even the 40% figure is coming from? How does an insurance company know what kind of felons your renting to? Are you required to collect that information and report it?

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2019 - 09:12 am.

    Again, just because this keeps coming up: New city regulations are not driving the rise in home and rental prices. This claim is based on a garbage analysis produced by a special interest group representing the housing industry.

    That’s not to say that new regulations don’t add ANY cost to construction or leasing but the claim is exaggerated.

    We can’t blame the industry for trying to increase it’s profit margins, but we also can’t ignore bogus claims and garbage analysis. We have to make policy based on reliable information and analysis, not industry propaganda.

  9. Submitted by Mike martin on 06/14/2019 - 01:37 am.

    As a landlord in Mpls. if the City caps the amount of the security deposit.t I charged all three groups 3 months rent a security deposit

    1. just out of college. Parents paid security deposit The parents much preferred a large deposit than having to co-sign the lease.

    2. 3 young adults coming out of rehab, short work history at minimum wage jobs & bad credit. Parents paid 3 months rent as security deposit & again preferred than to co-signing the lease

    3 poor credit history

    If the City limits how far back landlords can look at criminal history; what happens who had a assault on his record but the landlord didn’t know about it Assaults a single mom.

    Will the city lower the UD fee to make it easier to get the tenant that committee ?

    Who is going to pay the single mom’s medical? ( her part time jobs don’t provide medical insure. Where is she going to get the money for food, rent etc. if she isn’t working?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/14/2019 - 12:17 pm.


      Thanks for commenting, we get few if any actual landlords or developers on these comment threads.

      It looks like you have a lot of parents stepping in to help their sons and daughters pay for housing, but I’m sure you realize that isn’t an option for everyone. How does someone who doesn’t come from an affluent background come up with that money?

      As for criminal activity in your properties what happens NOW when someone beats someone up in one of your apartments? Or some other crime is committed? You’re not liable for failing to prevent criminal activity in any event, and if your not legally permitted to look back further than five years you’re no more liable for those renters than any others that beat someone up. The point of the limited look back is that someone committed a felony five or more years ago isn’t the high risk renter landlords assume them to be. We’re not talking about people who just got out of prison or even jail.

      I didn’t know rooming houses had been zoned out in MPLS. That could be something to look at, but I’m not sure it’s a big solution, most folks that have additional space are Air bnbing that space. And I’m not sure homeowners would be any more likely to rent to felons and credit risks than apartment or duplex owners.

      • Submitted by Mike martin on 06/16/2019 - 12:24 am.

        By rooming houses, I mean hotel type rooms with no kitchen & possible a bathroom down the hall. Think college dormitory.

        Not an extra room in someone’s house or renting out your house when you are gone.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/17/2019 - 08:51 am.

          Actually Mike what you’re describing sounds more like the skid row flop houses we had in the 50’s and earlier. Rooming “houses” were in fact literally houses where people rented out rooms, usually spare bedrooms.

          Times have changed, people sill have room mates and what not, but bringing back the flop-houses is probably not a sound strategy for affordable housing.

          There’s a cool documentary about the MPLS Skid Row using 8mm movies one of the flop house owners made before it was all torn down by the way, I think you can find it online.

  10. Submitted by Mike martin on 06/14/2019 - 01:46 am.

    There are some people that can only afford $ 300- $ 500 per month in rent. Where are the suppose to live. There aren’t enough section 8 vouchers for them.

    Mpls. had rooming houses which provided housing for people in transition or suffered a financial set back.

    But the City council passed an ordinance eliminating them.. Which reduced the number of rental units in the City. The City decided it would rather have people be homeless than live in a rooming house

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/15/2019 - 08:58 am.

    “There are some people that can only afford $ 300- $ 500 per month in rent. Where are the suppose to live. There aren’t enough section 8 vouchers for them.”

    Well, yeah, that’s why we need more affordable housing. We need to find a way to reduce rents, and increase incomes. In the short term rent reduction will bear most of the brunt, but we will always need affordable housing so this isn’t a temporary “market” glitch.

    At some point when we’re ready to have a serious conversation about this we’re going to have to realize that we ended up with public housing and rent controls in the past for a reason. If you could simply “build” your way into affordable housing that would have happened decades ago… we’ve BEEN building.

  12. Submitted by Mike martin on 06/16/2019 - 12:20 am.

    With current rules & regulations developers cannot build affordable housing without a subsidy. All those new apartments in Uptown are $ 2,000/mo for a 2 bd. That’s the rent developer have to charge given today’s building costs. Not enough Gen x, Y & millennials are becoming carpenters, plumbers etc. When there is a shortage of workers, the cost go up, which means the rent they have to charge goes up.

    To build affordable housing developers need low income housing tax credits (tax breaks for millionaires & rich corporations), below market financing, and government grants (free money). Some affordable housing projects get money from 8-10 different sources in order to make the numbers work.

    I know a developer that worked for 2 years to develop apartments on a piece of property on Glenwood Av. in Mpls. He had to give up because he could not make the numbers work. He could not get enough grants to reduce the cost so a lender would give him a mortgage.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/16/2019 - 10:43 am.

      “With current rules & regulations developers cannot build affordable housing without a subsidy. ”

      We know developers keep making this claim, but their numbers are dodgy. When they say they can’t make the numbers work, does that mean they can’t make money, or just that they can’t make as much money as they’d like to make?

      I don’t have a problem with subsidized building but are we subsidizing housing or affluent lifestyles of builders? If we’re going to sell subsidies we’ll have to find a balance for affordable housing. On the other hand, we can’t make builders build stuff they’re not interested in building so we’ll have to pay.

      One solution could be to create public contractors who actually handle the building, rather than trying to entice private contractors into doing the building. Public contractors wouldn’t need the profit margins. By comparison it’s like being your own general contractor if you work on your house instead of paying a general contractor. You can save 20% or more if you cut our the middle man as it were.

      And these regulations we’re talking about are usually necessary. We can’t build on poison land and expect people to live there. But who pays to clean up contaminated brown fields? We should have long ago established a funding source derived from industries that leave these properties behind, but we didn’t do that. So the public usually pick up the tab for “sight preparation”.

  13. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/18/2019 - 09:33 pm.

    Interesting, but, seems it was everyone else’s problem except the person renting. Point being, can they do anything to improve their plight in life, or must the environment change to accommodate their present disadvantage?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/19/2019 - 10:29 am.

      Absolutely Dennis. Here’s what people can do: 1) They can form or join labor unions that negotiate higher wages. 2) They can elect politicians that will pass living wage requirements. 3) They can elect politicians that will enact protections for renters so they can’t be priced out of housing or denied rental housing. 4) They can demand rational and effective housing policy and elect representatives that provide it.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/20/2019 - 09:42 pm.

        Lots of folks might think getting a better education, changing their life style, re-evaluating their personal values and how those values may positively or negatively effect their financial bottom line. The simple example is: a nicotine habit runs ~ $300/month. We don’t know what is or is not in various folks budgets, all you read is they struggle to make their rent payment, or they got evicted, that’s it. Like trying to solve an algebra equation with 5 variables and only one of them is defined.

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