BY JOE HESLA AND ALICIA SMITH
MURC (Minneapolis United for Rent Control)
You may have noticed, there is a big conversation and fight for rent control going on in the Twin Cities. In St. Paul, renters and organizers collected nearly 10,000 signatures to put a tenant-centered rent control policy on the ballot for voters to decide. If successful, renters in St. Paul will be protected against price-gouging and multiple monthly rent increases. Their policy will cap rent increases at 3% annually, applied universally. This was the pathway Minneapolis United for Rent Control (MURC) has been fighting for over a year to win. Since last summer, we at MURC have gone to neighborhoods throughout the city to build agreement about capping rent increases to 3% annually, with no exceptions.
Despite our strong grassroots organizing, the Minneapolis City Council did not overcome the mayor’s veto of that path, and blocked the renter-led pathway. Instead, the City Council approved the council-led pathway to rent control.
We at MURC started our work 12 months ago. We’ve built a diverse and powerful coalition that includes faith groups, neighborhood organizations, many unions, and housing organizations. Despite the City Council vote, we are proud of the success of our movement and coalition. Members of MURC have spent hundreds of hours door-knocking and tabling and phoning, having hundreds of conversations, postering the city, hosting public education events, and contacting City Council members to ask them to commit to our policy platform. MURC created a public (and political) conversation about rent control where there was no conversation before this.
Thanks to all of our coalition partners who actively and vocally pushed for the public path to rent control. You are MURC – and together we are leading the charge in Minneapolis for strong rent control.
So what is the fight now? The first battle is to make the sure the council passes any kind of rent control. The second battle is to get a strong ordinance. It was obvious this summer that this council will need to be pushed hard to pass a strong ordinance.
There is no doubt that our current mayor and a number of members of our current city council will not support a 3% cap. If the council aims for 7%, we could end up with 10%. That would be a win for those who are against rent control, like corporate landlords. They celebrated this ceiling in Oregon when it was passed in 2019.
Bishop Richard Howell, of Shiloh Temple International Ministries: “Our members at Shiloh Temple and our north Minneapolis community need a 3% yearly cap on rent increases. We call on all communities of faith to stand with us. It is morally wrong to do nothing, as our communities are unjustly targeted, and suffer deeply with the current rent increases.”
Alicia Smith, Director of Corcoran Neighborhood Organization: “The neighbors in Corcoran understand that we are in a serious state of emergency as it relates to the state of housing costs in Minneapolis. Rent control with a 3% yearly increase cap is simply one of the many right things all neighbors and neighborhoods can get behind.”
Kong Xiong, Political Director of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59: “MFT59 represents 5,000 members who are committed to fighting for economic opportunity for all. That’s why we are fighting alongside MURC. We want a policy that is universal and caps rent increases to cost of living. We see this as a way to stabilize the homes of the students we work with as well as provide financial security to our members who live in the communities they serve.”
Lynn Butcher, Statewide Secretary, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees: “Loyalty and being a good tenant does not guarantee housing security. My friend paid his rent on time for 19 years. Despite being the perfect tenant, he received a 30-day notice increasing his rent 60%. We must fight to ensure rent caps are no more than 3%, as we know any wage increases we win at the bargaining table are eaten up in these outrageous housing costs.”
Come to our Renter’s Assembly on Sept. 18. We will be strategizing things like: How can we get bigger? How can we build our active base? In November, voters will need to vote “Yes” to authorize the city council to write a rent control ordinance. How can we ensure a “Yes” vote in November? And from there, how can we influence our city council to pass a strong rent control ordinance?
Come and join us! We are having the time of our lives.It’s exhilarating to work on something historic like this.We hope to see you join our mighty coalition of fighters for rent control – Minneapolis United for Rent Control.
Check out our Facebook page: Minneapolis United for Rent Control.