Question: How do you think the market rate housing development of the last several years has impacted Minneapolis?
I’ve said I want Minneapolis to grow to 500,000 plus residents. We need to
add market-rate housing to get there, and we’ve done well on that front
during the recovery from the market collapse in 2009. Expanding the total
number of housing units is part of how we provide access to quality
affordable units, both at market rates and through subsidies. I’ve long been a
proponent of development-oriented transit as a way to drive smart density
and provide overall affordability to residents beyond just rents. The
challenge is that as we continue to grow, our success has resulted in a
tightening of the market and low vacancy rates, threatening to create a city in
which only those in the upper incomes can afford to live.
Question: What policies will you pursue to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing in Minneapolis? Since state financing for affordable housing is limited, what additional funding sources would you seek? What are some alternative policies you’d pursue to remove barriers to housing affordability which would compensate for this lack of funding?
We have a great tool to support the construction of new affordable housing
units in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. I have a long history of support
for that tool because it is such a critical part of how we approach housing.
But it’s clear that the trust fund is also insufficient alone to address the needs
we have. That’s why I created the Family Housing Initiative in 2016, which
enabled the Trust Fund to provide first-in dollars to create units for larger
families. That initiative already has seeded a project in the 12th ward that will
house 16 families experiencing homelessness. And it’s why I initiated
Minneapolis’ first investment into preserving our naturally-occurring
affordable housing stock. We have long been losing far more affordable
units than we could build through the Trust Fund. We have to use the
funding we do have to continue to take a creative approach to housing and
not be afraid to try new approaches. I support pursuing a strong inclusionary
housing policy across the City.
Question: The vast majority of Minneapolis is zoned exclusively for single-family homes, while most of the units we currently build are in large apartment buildings in or near downtown. Single-family homes and large apartment buildings tend to be more expensive per unit than missing middle housing (for example, a fourplex). How do we use the currently ongoing update to the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan to allow a mix of housing types across Minneapolis that are less expensive to rent, own, and build?
Simply put, we have to adopt a Comprehensive Plan that aligns with the
goals we’ve already set for ourselves. In addition to encouraging density
along transit corridors where we know it is needed, the Comprehensive Plan
should be explicit in applying a racial equity lens to land use policy.
Do you think there’s a place for light commercial spaces like small cafes and corner stores in neighborhood interiors? Do you believe there are other areas where restrictive zoning has led to worse outcomes for neighborhoods?
Absolutely. Maintaining and encouraging walkable access to small-scale
services and business are part of how we create vibrant neighborhoods.
That’s what people mean when they talk about the neighborhood character
that sets us apart and makes Minneapolis an attractive place to live.
Are there any other issues related to housing or zoning that you believe are important enough to address as a city council member? What specific policy goals would you pursue in this area?
As mayor I’ve focused on the tools we have at the City to help ensure
everyone has access to a safe and affordable place to live and that every
neighborhood in the City is a desirable place to live. I’ve also recognized that
Minneapolis isn’t an island, and that we can’t create an equitable housing
market without taking a regional approach. I’ve been convening my fellow
mayors in the metro area to move toward a regional approach to align
housing policy and investments in order to promote housing mobility
throughout the region. I plan to continue that work.