Minneapolis City Council to consider rent stabilization measure on Friday

After testimony this week from renters and landlords, Minneapolis city councilmembers are set to take up rent stabilization measures on Friday.

If the city council approves the measures, it’s the first step towards rent control in Minneapolis. But while struggling renters are pushing for approval, some say it will destroy the rental market.

At a public hearing on Wednesday, dozens of renters told stories of rent going up and then being unable to afford it, with some getting evicted. They encouraged the committee to forward the measures to the city council.

But those opposed say rent control is a failed policy that doesn’t work. They say it deters investment, leads to poorly maintained properties and people staying in units needed by others, like a single person in a multi-bedroom unit.

They say the rent increases have been modest in Minneapolis and for those hit the hardest, the real issue isn’t rent affordability, but rather income.

"It’s easy to look at the expense side and say, 'Oh let’s just control the rents of the property owners," said Cecil Smith with the Minnesota Multi Housing Association. "It doesn’t address the underlying problem of why are there income disparities with these communities? And let’s work on that problem cause that actually solves a lot of other things."

But others in favor of rent control accuse those opposed to it of being dishonest. The group Minneapolis United for Rent Control released a statement that says in part:

"I have no doubt the same real-estate lobbyists that called for a ‘no’ vote while parroting dishonest statements about rent control at today’s hearing are working overtime behind the scenes to change the vote on Friday, and later this summer when it comes back from the Charter Commission"

182 cities in the U.S. have rent control, but 99 of them are in New Jersey and 63 of them in New York. If the city council passes it, the measures move to the charter commission, who will possibly approve it, change it, or not approve it.