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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Letters: Control rent and build, too

St Paul’s initiative to control / stabilize rent should be handed over as part of the solution to the problem of endemic homelessness in our city, but it should be combined with the direct creation of exceptionally affordable housing and the widespread use of initiatives such as the city’s 4D Affordable Housing Incentive Program to keep it affordable in nature. housing.

A Star Tribune editorial last week rejected rent controls and argued market forces of supply and demand would solve the problem by increasing housing supply. However, this editorial does not take into account the October 8 Pioneer Press article by David Schultz, which indicated that the current housing insecurity and homelessness of low-wage citizens are the result of the failure of free market forces. Housing for all should be supported by direct construction of apartments available to new low-income tenants, coupled with rent stabilization for current tenants.

Schultz’s column for Pioneer Press argues that 1) short-term rent stabilization, accompanied by job control, primarily benefits existing tenants, but makes it difficult for new tenants to find affordable apartments, so 2) it must be accompanied by targeted low-rise construction. units of income, which is a separate market from high-end units.

“Building more high-end apartments will not reduce the cost of low-income apartments. These are separate markets. According to Schultz, developers will build the apartments that generate the most profit, and it will not necessarily be rental housing for the middle class or for the poor. He concludes: “When used more carefully and combined with other strategies such as direct construction of more affordable homes, rent stabilization may be part of the solution to the problem that free market delivery of housing poses.”

Elaine Taron, St. Paul

Mayor and council decide

I was delighted to hear about a proposal for a rent stabilization ordinance for the City of Saint Paul last summer. Several social justice groups reached out to me and many other supporters to enlist our support. This concept was in line with our shared values ​​of building a just, multiracial society and developing a caring and responsive economy for all. Saint Paul is a working-class city with significant levels of poverty and a large number of people of color. Saint Paul is also experiencing an affordable housing crisis, a large number of homeless people and an aging housing stock.

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As a former Director of the Department of Security and Inspection (DSI), I know a lot about housing in St. Paul. Since I retired in 2011, I have watched housing conditions continue to deteriorate and city programs fail to keep pace with problems. Rent stabilization can be an effective tool to contain the rise in housing costs, especially for low-income residents.

I was willing to join many dedicated social justice groups to advocate for rent stabilization until I read the proposed ruling.

If I were still working in the City, I would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance, and to be honest, I don’t know where to start.

In addition to setting a 3% cap on rent increases, the ordinance also contains a provision that homeowners can request exemptions based on a “reasonable return on investment (ROI) concept. There is no definition of what “reasonable” returns should or should be, and there is no guidance on how the ROI should be calculated. The ruling also states that “rent increases can only be made if the landlord can demonstrate that such adjustments are necessary to ensure the landlord has a fair return on investment.”

That’s all, the ruling is based on “reasonable and fair”. No definitions, no guidelines, just leave it to the discretion of the bureaucrats.

If this regulation becomes law, the only thing I know for sure is that we will need a lot more bureaucrats to sort it out.

There are over 65,000 rental properties in the city, and a large group of those properties and homeowners are fighting alongside the rest of the community. There will be many exception requests and huge processing delays.

What we really need in St. Paul, I hate to say, is the Minneapolis approach to allow the mayor and city council to decide how best to enact a rent stabilization ordinance.

Thus, Saint Paul must vote no on November 3 to avoid a bureaucratic crisis.

Bob Kessler, St. Paul

Not much better

President Biden uses the slogan “Build Better”. I’m sure I doubt it. Not much better.

The crisis on the southern border is a real disaster. Prices for almost everything are growing at a very noticeable pace. Oil, natural gas and gasoline are the highest prices in seven years. It’s no better for us.

Ron Erickson, Maplewood

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