Safe, affordable homes are the building blocks for strong families and communities. And how do we create more homes that are affordable for more families? That’s the question voters in Minneapolis & Saint Paul have as they consider rent control measures on the ballot next week.
Rent control might well be the answer to that question if there were already enough places to call home. If every family already had a decent house or apartment, stabilizing rents for workers earning minimum wage, seniors on fixed incomes, and neighbors saving for homeownership could make sense.
But we know there aren’t enough homes in the Twin Cities. According to the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP), a housing non-profit committed to reducing economic and racial disparities, more than 200,000 households in Ramsey and Hennepin Counties pay more than 30 percent of their incomes toward housing costs, putting them at risk of being unable to afford other basic needs like food and medicine.
And we know that these neighbors will only find affordable housing if we build more homes. More public housing, more apartments, more luxury condos, and more detached houses. We need all of them if we’re going to house everyone who already lives in the Twin Cities.
Yet, every community that has enacted rent control ends up needing more homes, not fewer. According to research rent control advocates cite the most, a 2021 study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), rent control leads “to an overall reduction in rental units.” Why? Because landlords “responded to rent regulation by removing units from the rental market via condominium conversion, demolition, or other means.”
Such consequences would exacerbate the nation’s worst housing shortage and make it harder for our poorest neighbors to find homes. Rent control “increases housing stability for tenants who live in regulated units,” but pulls up the ladder of affordability for the 200,000 families in the Twin Cities already struggling to find a decent place to live. In other words, rent control policies hurt the very people proponents are trying to help.
So, how do we create more homes that are affordable for more families? By expanding access to section 8 housing choice vouchers to bridge the gap between incomes and housing costs. By increasing investments in housing trust funds to expand and preserve the supply of rental homes. And by providing emergency rental assistance to households in crisis. These policies, all supported by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, will provide Minnesotans with affordable places to call home. Rent control? Vote No on November 2.