By Dan Krivit
St. Paul has the opportunity to be the “Most Livable City.” We are a welcoming community that is working hard together to get through these challenging times.
Now, the rent stabilization ballot measure is one real opportunity near at hand to take us all to the next level of helping to protect renters from unfair price hikes.
I’ve been a renter and a landlord. But now our family enjoys the privileges of owning our own home in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. Each day I try to better understand these privileges and use them to help our neighbors who do not yet have the opportunity to own their own homes. The rent stabilization ballot measure is one such step we can all take.
I encourage all my neighbors to read the ballot language (link to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s web site for your sample ballot) and the full ordinance amendment language. Don’t let the well-funded opponents interpret the proposed ordinance for you; the actual language details are very important and you can judge for yourself if it is reasonable.
Details of the full text of the proposed ordinance are very important. It clearly states the intent is to both protect renters from unreasonable and unfair rent increases while at the same time providing for landlords to make a fair return on investment.
My point is that we can have both with this proposal. As a former landlord myself, I understand the many risks of renting property. But a three percent annual cap on rental price increases is a small factor in the larger picture of managing income property. Other variables, such as retaining good tenants, can be much more important.
I also understand this St. Paul rent stabilization initiative is only one piece of a larger puzzle to help address housing insecurity in our city. We need to continue to look at all other alternatives as complementary options including programs and services offered both by the city and county (Check housing links on the city and county websites). The housing crisis is serious enough that we need to employ “all of the above” strategies.
Rent stabilization alone is not the answer but it is a part of grassroots efforts to address the problem. It provides all citizens of St. Paul the opportunity to vote “YES” on one part of a comprehensive solution package while encouraging our elected officials to continue to strengthen the other strategies.
We all have a role in helping to approve and support the rent stabilization proposal. We must say “YES” to moving St. Paul into the next generation of housing strategies to help address past inequities that present clear and present dangers to our neighbors who rent, especially people of color and other marginalized groups. We should welcome this opportunity to try new, bold initiatives. The status quo and doing nothing are no longer options.
Dan Krivit is a 20-year resident of the St. Anthony Park and a volunteer who helped gather signatures for the Housing Equity Now Saint Paul organization.