Jan 8, 2024 - Development

Researchers say Minneapolis should be blueprint for housing policies in other cities

Illustration of a row of condo buildings with one wall rising up into the sky and forming an upward pointing arrow

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Minneapolis' housing policies should be a blueprint for other cities as they try to tame rising rents, according to Pew Charitable Trusts researchers.

Why it matters: Pew's report says Minneapolis' development reforms β€” which have largely amounted to a let 'em build approach β€” have worked.

Zoom in: Rents in the city have increased by only 1% between 2017 and 2022, in large part because developers have increased housing stock by 12% during those five years, according to the report.

  • Meanwhile, rents in the rest of the state, which only increased its housing stock by 4%, have increased by 14% over the same period.

What they're saying: Pew housing expert Alex Horowitz told Axios that cities like Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, have already followed Minneapolis' lead.

  • "We wanted to put out this piece to help cities and states be effective in replicating (Minneapolis policies) so that they understand why Minneapolis has been so successful in improving affordability even as the rest of the U.S. has struggled."

What they found: Pew identified a handful of policy changes that have helped increase housing stock.

  • Minneapolis eliminated parking minimums for new buildings over the past 15 years. Underground parking can cost up to $50,000 per space, making housing more expensive to build.
  • The city in 2018 upzoned transit corridors as part of its 2040 Plan and required minimum density and height in certain areas, like downtown.

Reality check: Even as rents have stagnated here, for many they're still too high. While almost all of the new housing is very expensive, Horowitz noted that the additional units help because they remove high-income people from competing with low-income people for the same apartments.

Between the lines: There have been many more factors at play in Minneapolis than just a boom in new supply.

Yes, but: Horowitz said those same factors have been at play in other big U.S. cities, yet rents continue to rise fast in those places.

Of note: Unlike some other national reports, Pew correctly notes that the city's move to allow triplexes on almost every lot has made minimal impact because building codes still make them hard to work.

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