Winning Rent Stabilization in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Right now we have an affordable housing crisis in Minneapolis. Renters are beholden to landlords arbitrarily setting the price of housing each year, and because of this housing costs are rising faster than most renters’ incomes. The majority of Minneapolis households rent their homes, and 50% of renters have more than a third of their income taken for rent. This leaves thousands of Minneapolis families without resources for other basic needs and at risk of homelessness, all while the richest Minnesotans are doing better than ever. As our state works to address the racial disparities, we know that people of color are disproportionately cost-burdened renters. In 2016, there was not a single neighborhood in Minneapolis where the median Black household income could afford the median-priced rental unit. We know that affordable housing and rent stabilization are racial justice issues. Right now, it is perfectly legal for a landlord to increase rent by as much as they want when leases are renewed, even by thousands of dollars a year. Some landlords are doing this to kick out longtime members of the community and start over with higher-income tenants. This practice disrupts families and whole communities.
Minneapolis campaign: Home to Stay MPLS
The most effective intervention to keep people in their homes and support working families in Minneapolis is to pass a rent stabilization policy. However, the state of Minnesota preempts local municipalities from passing policies to regulate rent. The pathway to rent stabilization in Minneapolis is to get a majority of Minneapolis voters to pass a Charter Amendment allowing the City of Minneapolis to create and pass a rent stabilization policy.
The goal of the campaign is to win a majority support for a “Yes” vote to change the Minneapolis City Charter. This will require extensive community conversation and political education about the proposed Charter amendments. Our Union is proud to be part of the Home to Stay MPLS coalition with community, faith and other labor groups, all fighting to make sure our families have a safe, affordable place to live.
Several decades ago, the Republican-controlled legislature (lobbied by landlords) passed a law restricting local democracy by banning cities from passing rent stabilization policies unless they hold a referendum. In order for Minneapolis to have the authority to pass our own policies on rent stabilization, we have to vote to change the city charter to provide the city the authority to pass a rent stabilization policy. There are 2 proposed rent stabilization charter amendments:
- Council initiative: provide the city council the power to adopt a rent stabilization ordinance or put a rent stabilization ordinance on the ballot for voters
- Resident initiative: provide the people of Minneapolis the power to put a rent stabilization ordinance on the ballot for voters through a petition process This year’s proposed charter amendment is not a vote to enact a Rent Stabilization policy, but it is a necessary step to create processes for Minneapolis to be able to pass Rent Stabilization next year.
There is still work to be done before these charter amendments are on the ballot, but our union is ready to fight to make that a reality and build a city where everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home.
St. Paul Campaign: Housing Equity Now! (HENS)
Whether Black or White, Asian or Latinx, immigrant or Indigenous, a student or a senior, renters belong in St. Paul.
From the West Side to the North End, from Frogtown to the East Side, everyone in our city should have a safe, stable place to call home. We know our community is stronger and more prosperous when families, children and workers can put down roots and invest their energy and love in their neighborhoods.
But, a growing number of corporate and predatory landlords have chosen profit over people, spiking rents to make more money and forcing our neighbors out of their homes.
We have the power to stop that.
St. Paul voters will get a chance to vote this November for rent stabilization to help address the affordable housing crisis facing our families Rent stabilization is a proven policy that protects tenants from unreasonable rent spikes, accounts for the operating expenses of landlords and is cost effective for our city and taxpayers.
There is a state law preventing cities from passing rent stabilization ordinances - unless they pass by ballot measure. Chapter 8 of Saint Paul’s City Charter gives residents the power to advance an ordinance through the ballot.
Thanks to dozens of coalition organizations, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of residents, HENS organizers submitted more than 9,100 signatures to the Ramsey County Clerk on June 15, 2021, to put rent stabilization on the ballot in St. Paul this November.
Our union, along with our partners in HENS, are ready to do the work between now and election day to build a city where everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home.