2017 Candidate Questionnaire: Jillia Pessenda – City Council, Ward 1

Jillia Pessenda

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Question: How do you think the market rate housing development of the last several years has impacted Minneapolis?

Minneapolis is a growing city and we should welcome new neighbors to our community. Building new housing is one piece of ensuring everyone has a home they can afford. It can have long term benefits to creating affordable housing by increasing the housing stock, but it often creates short term affordability problems in rising rents for nearby neighbors. We need to do more to ensure we maintain affordability in booming neighborhoods by passing inclusionary zoning and locking in the affordability of naturally occurring affordable housing.

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?

State and national financing of affordable housing is likely only going to shrink so we will need to find creative ways to ensure long term affordability of Minneapolis. We should invest in community land trusts, pass an inclusionary zoning policy where it makes sense, raise the minimum wage so families can afford rent, extend the number of years of guaranteed affordability in new affordable housing developments so we get more for our investments, prioritize acquisition of market occurring affordable housing, and reduce reliance on auto usage as structured parking represents a significant cost in new development. We should strengthen tenant rights by passing a just cause eviction ordinance and explore a policy where tenants have the right of first refusal on sales of rental units.

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? 

As members of our community age and neighborhoods continue to grow, we can do more to ensure our neighborhoods have housing that works for all families. We should engage community members in the Comprehensive Plan process around reducing restrictions on the places in our city where duplexes and triplexes can be built. Much of Ward 1 has a mix of housing options and we should do more to make those available in all parts of the ward.

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?

Yes, absolutely. We should invest in vibrant neighborhoods that are liveable and walkable. I support light commercial spaces that support small businesses and cooperatives that keep wealth in our communities; I would welcome that in in neighborhood interiors.

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?

I worked to pass zoning changes to allow for more community and market gardening. Both provide a way to engage community and build our local food system. I will continue to advocate for strengthening community and market gardens in Minneapolis.