Election 2021

St. Paul, Minneapolis voters back rent control

a person stands behind a sign
Monica Bravo, executive director of the West Side Housing Organization, works to gather 10,000 signatures from St. Paul residents at an event in April to get the rent stabilization initiative on the ballot in St. Paul.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News file

Updated: 11:40 p.m.

Minneapolis voters on Tuesday gave the City Council the OK to put rent controls in place. St. Paul voters took it further, backing a ballot measure that will place a 3 percent cap annually on most rent increases.

Advocates for rent control had argued during the election season that policies were needed to keep rental housing affordable and prevent extreme rent increases. 

The goal was to ensure everyone in the city has a stable place to live, regardless of their wealth or race, said Claire Bergren, manager of the Home To Stay campaign Minneapolis. 

A University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs report that examined rent control policies in other cities found that policies generally helped keep prices down and that there was little evidence that rent stabilization policies led to less new construction.

But opponents pointed to the study’s conclusion that rent stabilization policies have been shown to reduce the number of rental units in an area as landlords changed units into condos or put them up for sale. 

A coalition of business groups, real estate professionals and trade unions worked to oppose the measures, saying rent control policies could delay building projects at a time when there’s already an affordable housing shortage in the Twin Cities.

“Rent control sounds like a solution to the problem of housing affordability,” Cecil Smith, president of the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, told MPR News earlier this fall. “A closer look at rent control indicates it is the wrong solution. Building more housing that’s affordable is the right solution.” 

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