Oct 21, 2021 - Politics

Minneapolis' mayoral candidates weigh in on housing

Headshots of the four Minneapolis mayoral candidates.

From left: A.J. Awed, Kate Knuth, Jacob Frey and Sheila Nezhad. Photos courtesy of respective campaigns

Public safety is the No. 1 topic in the Nov. 2 Minneapolis election, but housing remains a major secondary issue.

State of play: The median sales price of a home in Minneapolis has risen from $279,000 to $310,000 over just the past two years, according to Minneapolis Area Realtors.

  • Meanwhile, average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities metro has increased from $957 a month to $1,320 a month over the past decade, per Marquette Advisors.

Driving the news: The top candidates for mayor, speaking to Axios Twin Cities, offered wide ranging solutions to the housing problem.

Mayor Jacob Frey touted his administration's record levels of investment in affordable housing, noting that the building of highly affordable housing jumped by a factor of five during his term.

Yes, but: Even with that boost in investment, builders completed just 273 deeply affordable housing units last year in a city with more than 420,000 residents.

  • Frey said he wants more regional investment in affordable housing so Minneapolis doesn't shoulder so much of the burden.
  • "The record-setting amounts that we've invested are, in fact, record-setting, but are they enough ? The answer's no," he said.

What they're saying: His opponents have other ideas for pumping up housing and affordability.

A.J. Awed said he would go to the state Legislature to get authority for the city to levy a tax on luxury apartment tenants, to the tune of 0.5-2% of their monthly rent.

  • He estimates that such a tax would generate $10 million-$20 million annually and would go toward public housing.

Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth both said they would use the public housing tax levy to improve and expand public housing, but didn't say how much they would levy.

  • "We have shown in the last year that we have emergency funding when it comes to repressing protests, but not when it comes to housing folks who are being cast aside in our rapidly gentrifying city," Nezhad said.
  • Knuth said she hears from Minneapolis residents who say they're willing to pay more in taxes "if it helps us really solve significant challenges and I think addressing homelessness is absolutely one of the challenges."

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