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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

16 votes for and against the 3 percent rent ceiling in Saint Paul

On November 2, Saint Paul’s voters will determine whether the city will impose a 3 percent annual cap on residential rent increases, arguably the strictest rent control ruling in the country.

Proponents say too many low- and middle-income tenants are facing a sharp jump in monthly rents overnight in a hot housing market, and this proposal, which will apply to all rental units, including new construction, will provide vulnerable residents with the housing stability they need. Critics predict a negative impact on housing turnover and private sector investment, which could lead to less availability of affordable apartments, as well as less investment in renovation and maintenance.

Here are 16 opinions on both sides of the question:


Katherine Schneider, Homeowner: “When you buy a home, you get a mortgage so you know what your expenses will be over the next 30 years. Why shouldn’t tenants have the same economic stability as homeowners? … Sustainable housing is not just what tenants need to do. This is the right thing to do for everyone in St. Paul. “

Alan Richardson Hone, Homeowner: “If I have the wrong budget and my expenses ever exceed my income, I can apply for a tax exemption. The community deserves protection from predatory landowners who prioritize profit over strength and growth. ”

St. Paul City Councilor Nelsie Young, Tenant: “When I get tenants to participate in the campaign, I see a need for it. … (Critics) here are not talking to people who are being driven out of their own home. I just got on the phone with tenants who no longer live in their apartment because their landlord instantly increased their rent by $ 400 a month. When you talk to landlords who are doing what is right, who are making housing sustainable, they have no problem with it at all. Housing is a human right. ”

Nelsie Young

State Senator Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul: “We all need a safe place, we want and deserve it. A place to call home. But it remains elusive and too costly for too many, a destabilizing factor in the lives of Minnesotans. We need more investment, but as we fight for it, rent stabilization will lead to predictable and manageable housing costs for tenants in St. Paul. ”

16 votes for and against the 3 percent rent ceiling in Saint Paul
State Senator Erin Murphy

Bahie Hartshorn, tenant and chairman of the board of the West Side Community Organization: “This policy is so personal to so many people. … This letter you get in the mail about a rent increase can feel like a punch to the stomach, like an ugly shock. Knowing that they can never increase your rent by more than 3 percent helps people make long-term decisions about where they want to live and for how long. This is the freedom that people get, as homeowners, who expect their payouts to stay flat. This is not the freedom that low-income tenants can get. ”

16 votes for and against the 3 percent rent ceiling in Saint Paul
Bahiye Hartshorn (employee photos)

Tram Hoang, campaign manager for the Keep St. Paul Home and advocate of the Alliance for Stability in the Capital: “Average rents have not increased by more than 3 percent (annually) over the past 20 years. This suggests that 3 percent is sufficient. It’s generous. People have been able to keep up with property taxes and maintenance even in the face of economic shocks such as the foreclosure crisis (2008). … This problem affects the most low-income and colored tenants. When we look at St Paul’s Cathedral, we realize that people of color are more likely to rent. This affects a large part of the city because most of the city is renters. “

Mayor of Saint Paul Melvin Carter: “One of the problems in policy making through a referendum is that we kind of fix the first draft. I do believe that there are concerns about potential new housing openings at a time when our population is growing so rapidly. … I vote for the stabilization of the rent. Not because the policy is flawless in the form in which it is drawn up – we can and must make it better and faster – but because this is just the beginning. “

Edward Goetz, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota: “This is not the strictest regime in the world. He’s not the strictest in the country. Berkeley, California sets them (rent controls) at 65 percent of the CPI. “

16 votes for and against the 3 percent rent ceiling in Saint Paul
Mayor of Saint Paul Melvin Carter (staff photos)


Bill Lindecke, former member of the Saint Paul Planning Commission and author of many books on Saint Paul: “I think this will exacerbate the housing shortage in Saint Paul because it will stop new housing construction in the city. This pretty much guarantees an increase in rent for many people. Landlords will increase their rents by 3% annually, which is higher than the average over the past 20 years. At the same time, it will be difficult to find new apartments due to the fact that new apartments will not be built. Much of the city’s climate change action plan revolves around the construction of new transit housing. ”

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Jim McCorkell, St. Paul landlord: “My wife and I are small homeowners. We own five duplexes in McGrawland and Highland, including the one we live in. We support the goal of making housing more affordable … but we are against this referendum. If it passes, we will definitely be raising the rent by a maximum of 3 percent each year from now on. There would be no other responsible choice. We do not currently do this with long-term tenants because we want to keep them. … If adopted, this policy will result in many people paying higher rents immediately, postponing maintenance to a large extent, many landlords selling properties to large corporate landlords, and virtually stopping new rental housing construction. ”

St. Paul City Councilor Jane Prince: “The ordinance presented to us is too crude a tool. … We simply cannot afford to discourage new construction. … (In contrast to this voting initiative) some cities exempt new construction (from rent control) for 15 years, and then you give it up. … You can see some deterioration in the condition of the property, which we absolutely cannot afford in Saint Paul. “

16 votes for and against the 3 percent rent ceiling in Saint Paul
St. Paul City Councilor Jane Prince

Robbie Grossman, board member of the St. Paul’s Association of Realtors: “Current housing supply will decline if landlords decide to convert their current rent into owner-occupied property if the landlord decides to sell.” … This is a broad regulation for all homeowners in the city. The landlord you are talking about may be your neighbor across the street who owns one or two apartments and can use that income to supplement his child’s college. These people will really get in the way if they can’t raise their rent to keep up. “

Ashley Holmes, St. Paul landlord: “I am a woman of color who owns an apartment and will vote no. … This proposal will hurt most people of color, most (of whom) live in areas north of (interstate) 94 and east of the Capitol. These areas are already in a quandary, and this limitation would be disastrous for the people who own and rent in these areas. This rent cap will take money away from the housing system, which is the opposite of what would have to happen in order to create stable livable rents in these areas. Are we making our schools better by taking money and investment? Absolutely not.”

Jason George, Sales Director of the International Union of Civil Engineers 49th Field Office, which operates construction equipment: “These policies, while well-intentioned, are not the solution. … You have to compete in construction and repair. Property owners will strive to renovate things as cheaply as possible. … Here we stop the growth of jobs in cities where we are trying to hire people to work. … This will have a chilling effect on future development, which is bad for jobs in the city. Future development is a source of income for the city. This is how they pay for plowing roads and repairing streets, which is also our business. “

Sue Nichols, owner of several affordable apartments: “It prevents people from trying to improve their property. My property taxes can easily go up 5 percent (over the year). I had problems with tenants and went to call people from the attorney general to the local community organization to find out what resources, as a homeowner, I have to deal with problem tenants. And there is simply nothing. Sometimes I think the government sees the problem with the landlords. A much better solution would be some kind of collaboration between the government, landlords and non-profit organizations. “

St. Paul developer Jamie Stolpestad: “Rent controls are holding back investment, so you don’t get as much housing. This is the basic supply and demand. We need more suggestion. The population of Saint Paul is now the highest, and we need more places to accommodate people. I would say that this removes the symptom. The main reason is that we do not have enough housing. “

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