Proposed changes to Minneapolis ordinances get pushback

May 31, 2019 07:33 PM

Representatives from the Minnesota Multi Housing Association on Friday announced a campaign to push back against proposed changes to city ordinances in Minneapolis which they said would negatively affect the majority of renters in the state's largest city.

"Regulations that hurt the vast majority of good renters are not the answer," said Mike Garvin, who is the association's board chair.

The proposed ordinance changes would limit how property owners can use criminal, credit and eviction histories to screen potential tenants. Landlords would no longer be able to reject tenants for felony convictions older than five years, misdemeanors older than two years, or for credit scores below 500. 

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"Credit score and criminal background are very relevant to keeping our properties affordable and safe," MHA President Nichol Beckstrand said.

The new regulations would also place limits on the size of security deposits.

"We're trying to lower the barriers of people getting into housing," Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said, who helped draft the ordinances with Council President Lisa Bender.

Jeremiah Ellison said the new ordinances are designed to address the city's affordable housing crisis.

"I don't think this is a one-way dictation of us saying developers have to do one thing," he said. "I think developers really benefit from being a part of this community here in Minneapolis and they need to work with everyone to be a part of this city."

MHA representatives and their supporters said the changes could have unintended consequences.

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"Just getting them a key doesn't mean it's getting them a home. They might be out the next month. We're concerned this ordinance will drive up the eviction rate in Minneapolis," Bernadette Hornig said. Hornig Companies has more than 2,000 rental units across the city. 

The speakers at Friday's event said they believe city leaders haven't been responsive to their feedback and requests.

"I've reached out again and again with ideas for how to help vulnerable residents but I've been brushed aside as our leaders turn a deaf ear to those who don't agree with their solutions in search of problems," Hornig said.

Several speakers said they believe city leaders should instead focus on especially helping those who need housing rather than changing the rules for all renters. The group plans to use social media, online advertising and yard signs to raise awareness about the issue. They are encouraging residents to contact their city leaders to let them know their opinions.

Ellison said the ordinances are still in draft form and he's open to changes. He hopes to have a public hearing on the issue this summer. 

"If some people think this isn't the answer then let's have a conversation," Ellison said.

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Matt Belanger

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