2017 Candidate Questionnaire: Terry White – City Council, Ward 8

Terry White

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

The city has been too passive in the housing market. The DFL has allowed the market to turn Minneapolis into one of the least affordable and most segregated cities in the country. One of my goals is to bring greater transparency and accountability to the city council. I thinking being a member of the Green Party allows me to do that. The current state of affairs is one of the main causes of keeping people poor and desperate. It’s a main driver in why so many children attending school are homeless and why traditionally violent neighborhoods continue to see a cycle of violence that often seems unbreakable.

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?

The policies, practices and investments I will champion:

  • Reduce evictions. These have a tremendous impact on the families and communities involved and can usually be resolved for under $2,000. The city needs to provide legal access for residents to fight evictions and a no interest loan fund to keep people in their homes.
  • Streamlined Permitting. Any development defined as affordable housing needs to automatically be entitled to expedited review. If denied a permit, appeals need to be reviewed within 4 months.
  •  Accessory Dwelling Units. Sometimes known as “granny flats,” these units need to be allowed in all neighborhoods as they can provide low-cost housing for students and elderly singles. Zoning exclusively for single-family homes needs to change. Building preference and permitting needs to prioritize multi-family housing.
  • Eliminate minimum sizes for homes. Standard building codes for housing should be applied, there should be no minimums on the size of houses that can be built.
  • Greater investment in Affordable Housing Trust Funds. I will prioritize funding to “Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing” (NOAH) and other housing trust funds. It’s my belief, that if the city can afford a Target Field, U. S. Bank Stadium, the convention center, and the Commons, it can afford to make a greater contribution to funds such as this one.
  • Inclusionary Housing Requirements. Developers building high-density housing should be rewarded for including affordable units. For example, by including 15% price-controlled units for 20 years, they should be allowed to build with fewer parking spaces and allowed to build at a greater density than they might otherwise be able to build.
  • Housing Enterprise Zones. Designate specific areas within the city where affordable housing is most needed. Allow for property tax abatement in those areas for new owner-occupied dwellings. 100 percent abatement for the first year, 90 percent the second year, etc. for ten years.

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? 

In addition to the above, I support innovative financing tools which allow a nonprofit or the city to own the underlying property while an individual own’s the home. This type of financing will increase the diversity of home-ownership throughout the city by lowering the cost of entry. In addition, it will combat gentrification. These deals will include price controls that will keep the home affordable as it is sold.

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 there is a place, I think these establishments encourage community and contribute to the livability and uniqueness of each neighborhood. However, I recognize they have an impact on the surrounding residences in terms of noise and parking. (A friend of mine lived near the Malt Shop, said her entire house smelled of hamburgers!) So, yes, restrictions are needed, but I would prefer to see local solutions based on community input before broad restrictions across the city.

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?

The city council has been too slow in addressing affordable housing. While there is much talk about providing the groundwork for it, there hasn’t been enough action. Given that there has been one-party rule of the city for 40 plus years it is inexcusable. Affordable housing keeps the city livable for all residents, it reduces crime, provide taxes, allows people to work, and gives children the stability they need to perform in school. My goal is to increase the transparency and accountability of the zoning committee and change priorities on the city council so that affordable housing gets the urgent attention it deserves. A specific goal of mine is to reduce the number of children in poverty and those attending school with housing instability.