For almost three years, Minneapolis has been debating whether to limit landlords’ ability to raise rents each year.
But even after Minneapolis voters approved a ballot initiative that opened the door to rent control in the city, supporters haven’t mustered the City Council votes necessary to advance an actual rent stabilization policy.
Yes, this year’s rent control push fell short because a key City Council vote fell on an important Islamic holiday, excluding several Muslim council members. Still, there were barely enough supporters on the council to even open debate on the issue, let alone come to consensus on a final policy — or muster the veto-proof majority that might be necessary to overcome Mayor Jacob Frey’s skepticism of rent control.
That means this November’s elections will be crucial — and responses to MinnPost’s recently published council questionnaire show where candidates on both sides of the rent control issue have opportunities to flip seats in this year’s races.
Why this matters
Before we get to their answers, a little bit of background: The most strident rent control advocates prefer imposing a strict 3% cap on annual rent increases, with few exceptions. Others support looser policies that, for example, exempt newly constructed buildings or allow bigger year-over-year rent increases.
Opponents fear these policies could backfire, incentivizing landlords to raise rents faster than they might otherwise. Supporters say these fears are overblown, and that rent stabilization is an important protection in a city where a majority of residents rent their homes.
When supporters tried to advance a stricter version of rent control this spring, here’s where Minneapolis City Council members stood:
MinnPost asked whether candidates supported a 3% cap on annual rent increases. Here’s how candidates in a few key races responded:
Ward 7 (East Isles, West Bde Maka Ska)
Two current council members who oppose the strict rent control policy, including Ward 7’s Lisa Goodman, are not running for reelection. Both were wary of enacting a strict rent control policy, and their vacant seats represent the ripest targets for rent control supporters.
Yet in Ward 7, neither of the two best-funded candidates expressed much interest in a strict policy. Scott Graham wrote that rent control “risks harming Minneapolis renters in the long run.” Katie Cashman — who’s generally running to Graham’s left — told MinnPost she opposes a 3% cap, instead favoring “direct rental assistance and strong protections for renters.”
Ward 7 hopeful Kenneth Foxworth supports the 3% cap, but has raised little campaign cash.
Ward 12 (Southeast Minneapolis)
The second departing council member who opposed a strict rent control policy was Ward 12’s Andrew Johnson — but unlike his Ward 7 counterpart, Johnson had also signaled openness to a compromise on the issue.
Ward 12 candidates Luther Ranheim and Nancy Ford did not express any such openness. Rent control “at a 3% annual cap would hurt the very people that it intends to help,” Ranheim wrote in his response.
Ward 12 candidate Aurin Chowdhury — who has the endorsement of the local Democratic Socialists chapter — did not complete MinnPost’s questionnaire, but has said elsewhere that she supports a looser rent control policy with exemptions for newly constructed units.
Ward 8 (South Minneapolis)
Ward 8 incumbent Andrea Jenkins voted to advance the rent control debate despite her own personal misgivings about such a policy. In her responses to the MinnPost questionnaire, Jenkins said she would have preferred a compromise policy that limited “price gouging” — but has signaled in interviews that she personally does not support a stricter rent control policy.
Jenkins’ highest-profile challenger, Soren Stevenson, does support a 3% cap. “Rent stabilization is an important component of a suite of housing policies we need to protect families, the elderly, and other vulnerable communities’ right to safe and stable housing,” he wrote in his response to MinnPost.
Another Ward 8 candidate, Terry White, preferred implementing a “progressive tax system” that he argued would avoid problems associated with a “fixed cap” on rent increases.
Ward 5 (Near North Minneapolis)
Ward 5 incumbent Jeremiah Ellison voted to advance the proposal for a strict 3% cap that ultimately failed this spring: “Minneapolis needs a strong rent control policy that covers all renters, is free from corporate loopholes and is adjusted accurately to the cost of living,” Ellison said in his questionnaire response.
One of Ellison’s challengers, Phillip Peterson, said efforts should be made to limit increases even further.
Ellison’s best-funded opponent, Victor Martinez, argued against a strict 3% cap in his response to MinnPost. “There is no proof that it works, but there is proof that it hurts the creation of more housing units,” responded Martinez.
Below, we’ve summarized where candidates who responded to MinnPost’s candidate survey stand on the rent control question.
To see where this year’s city council candidates in both St. Paul and Minneapolis stand on a wide range of hot topics, check out MinnPost’s “Who’s running?” guide.
Should Minneapolis enact a rent stabilization ordinance with a 3% cap on annual rent increases? Why or why not?
- Elliott Payne (incumbent): “Yes, Minneapolis should implement a rent stabilization policy.”
- Edwin Fruit: “The housing crisis is a permanent feature of workers’ lives under capitalism.”
- Robin Wonsley (incumbent): Yes, supports 3% cap
- Michael Rainville (incumbent): No. “Our city does not want to stop housing production.”
- Marcus Mills: Yes, supports 3% cap “in accordance with Framework 5.”
- LaTrisha Vetaw (incumbent): No
- Leslie Davis: Yes, supports 3% cap
- Angela Williams: Supports capping rent increases for landlords with a history of code violations
- Jamal Osman (incumbent): Yes, supports 3% cap
- Guy T. Gaskin: No
- Tiger Worku: Yes, supports 3% cap
- Kayseh Magan: Yes, “I support a rent stabilization ordinance that provides an exception for newly constructed units.”
- Dan Orban: No
- Aisha Chughtai (incumbent): Yes, supports 3% cap
- Bruce Dachis: No
- Greg Kline: No
- Gabrielle Prosser: “The housing crisis is a permanent feature of workers’ lives under capitalism.” (Identical to Ward 1 candidate Edwin Fruit’s response)
- Kate Mortenson: No
- Zach Metzger: “I am for rent control”
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