Mpls. City Councilmembers vote for both pathways to passing rent control

After six months of grassroots organizing, 11 of 13 Minneapolis City Councilmembers voted in favor of both charter amendments establishing a process for passing rent control in Minneapolis. They rejected bureaucratic opposition from the City Attorney’s Office and the Minneapolis Charter Commission, who recommended that the city council block the charter amendment allowing for a renter-crafted policy, passed by a ballot initiative to voters.

Wednesday’s vote at the Policy & Government Oversight (POGO) Committee is an indication of how the city council will vote at their Regular Meeting this Friday at 9:30am, though organizers are continuing the grassroots pressure campaign until every vote is counted. At today’s committee meeting numerous city councilmembers said they had heard from renters concerned about getting priced out of the city, homeowners concerned about gentrification, unions concerned about their membership’s housing costs, faith communities, and more.

Mayor Frey has indicated he will veto the charter amendment that establishes a renter-crafted pathway to passing rent control through a ballot initiative. However, in the end, the Minneapolis City Council has the power to override his veto at their city council Meeting on Friday, August 6 at 9:30 am. Only 9 of the 11 “yes” votes today would be required to override the mayoral veto of the renter-led option.

“The renter-led pathway is not on the November 2 ballot yet. We are calling on renters, working class homeowners, union members, and faith leaders to pack City Hall on Friday, August 6 at 9:00 am” said Joe Hesla, member of Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America (TC-DSA) and organizer with Minneapolis United for Rent Control, “we just saw how the City Attorney and the Charter Commission tried to do the dirty work of landlords and the real-estate lobby, and we need to keep up the pressure until the last vote is counted.”

One of the main arguments the Charter Commission and the City Attorney tried to use against a renter-led ballot initiative was that it would establish a “majoritarian tyranny”. Organizers pointed out that when the Charter Commission says they want to protect minority interests, they mean the economic elite, like corporate landlords, developers, and out-of-state investors who continue to profit off this housing crisis. The feared majority in this case, are renters, working-class homeowners, and Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities, who are the most impacted by these skyrocketing rent increases.

The other argument they used was to say renters would create a bad rent control policy. Organizers with Minneapolis United for Rent Control point out that their proposed policy, which caps rent increases at 3% annually and applies universally to all units, is actually in-line with the key findings of Minneapolis City Council’s own study conducted by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA). See MURC’s statement on the CURA study here.

Minneapolis United for Rent Control is supported by numerous organizations, including the Harrison Neighborhood Association, Socialist Alternative, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), Corcoran Neighborhood Organization, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Professionals (MFT 59), Unite HERE Local 17, the Restaurant Opportunities Center – MN, Black Visions, Reclaim the Block, Inqulinxs Unidxs por Justicia, Cedar Riverside Community Council, Seward Neighborhood Group, Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America (TC-DSA), and numerous faith based organizations, led by Shiloh Temple International Ministries.