2017 Candidate Questionnaire: Raymond Dehn – Mayor

Raymond Dehn

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

The intention behind constructing market-rate housing is that by constructing more market-rate housing, the housing needs of middle- and upper-income residents will be tangentially met. The result is supposed that older, more affordable housing units will be open to low-wage earners, and there will not be competition between income groups for affordable housing units. This process is often referred to as ‘filtering,’ where older units trickle down to low-wage earners.However, the disproportionate addition of market-rate housing units has led to an increase in land values and housing costs. This is for a multitude of reasons:

  • Speculation and investment in ‘attractive’ neighborhoods raises the land values at a higher rate than the depression of housing costs caused by building market-rate housing can keep up with,
  • There is a significant time delay between when market-rate housing is built and when older, affordable housing units open up,
  • Older units that are supposed to open up are often at risk of deteriorating to the point where they are not quality units
  • When gentrifying neighborhoods, investors drive up the value of land and low-wage earners end up being forced into other neighborhoods anyways,
  • Where land values are increasing, the older, ‘naturally-existing’ are purchased for redevelopment,
  • Aesthetic preferences for older housing interrupt the process of ‘filtering.’

More housing supply is absolutely necessary to ensure affordable housing in Minneapolis. This includes the construction of market-rate housing. However, we must prioritize the needs of the communities at the highest-risk of being displaced through adding density. Steps we must take to address this are:

  • Subsidizing permanently affordable housing
  • Incentivizing developers/investors to create affordable housing units
  • Passing a $15 minimum wage to lift low-wage earner out of poverty

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 need to transform the housing issue through community building solutions. To keep low-income families and households from being priced-out, we must protect and incentivize naturally occurring affordable housing. In the present system, renters are significantly disadvantaged, compared to landlords. To ensure the maintenance of safe units that meet regulations the city should keep property taxes low for high-quality landlords.As Mayor, I would take action to:

  • Target increasing density to neighborhoods with no to low risk of gentrification
  • Invest in preventative public health and public safety programs decrease expenses; reinvest funds into affordable housing
  • Pursue policies to require mixed-income housing developments
  • Continue the City Council’s policy of seeking opportunities for private public partnerships
  • Reinvest revenue from City tax base expansions created by Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) projects
  • If necessary, increase property taxes on our City’s highest earners to increase funding for affordable housing. Additionally, I would move forward with increasing fees on members of our community least likely to be impacted.
  • Support ordinance to increase housing access for Section 8 voucher holders

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? 

I support the ongoing update to the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan allowing for very high density and zoning for mixed housing types. Minneapolis is the fast growing city in the Midwest. Densification is inevitable and essential; we just have to do it intelligently. This means building applicable types of housing in need areas. There are many low-density pockets of our city where we can build middle housing without negatively affecting areas zoned for single-family housing, while increasing the demand for businesses and city services in newly densified neighborhoods.

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, I believe commercial spaces within neighborhood interiors positively impact the community. In addition to increasing community wealth, small local business will have a greater advantage to thrive. Businesses owned by residents in the neighborhood nurture cultural diversity. Further, the increased foot traffic will shift the neighborhood culture and improve public safety.

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?

Yes. We need to address the following housing and zoning related issues:

  • 8 percent of Minneapolis Public Schools students experience homelessness and/or high mobility
  • There are over 1500 people on a waiting list for a Section 8 voucher; the majority of individuals with a voucher can only find housing in low-income neighborhoods

My housing and zoning goals as Mayor will be to:

  • Accommodate the growing number of people moving into Minneapolis and the region without changing the tapestry/fabric of diverse neighborhoods
  • Create a destination for talent that has allowed Minneapolis to be an economic driver
  • Provide housing for everyone across the economic spectrum so low-wage workers have a home in the City of Minneapolis

We will accomplish these goals by:

  • Building enough affordable housing units to keep up with demand (4200 units annually)
  • Pass and successfully implement the Section 8 anti-discrimination ordinance
  • Invest in preventative public health and public safety programs decrease expenses; reinvest funds into affordable housing