By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Residents on both sides of the Mississippi River will vote on rent control measures this fall.

St. Paul voters will decide whether rent increases should be capped at 3%, while Minneapolis citizens will decide if the City Council should have the power to cap.

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Mitra Jalali is a St. Paul City Council Member who says she wants to rein in predatory landlords.

“My research has told me this is a rent stabilization policy that is meant to curb extractive rent increases. So, not rent increases to cover the cost of maintenance or property upkeep, but unfair profiteering,” said Jalali.

In both cities, more than 50% live in rental units giving these measures a big impact.

Jalali believes protection for renters is needed.

“Lower-income renters of color are most vulnerable to rent spikes. [They] are seeing historical proportionate rent increases,” Jalali said.

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A broad coalition of Twin Cities housing developers are spearheading an effort to defeat both rent control ballot initiatives.

“Rent control is destructive to the housing market, “ said Cecil Smith, CEO and President of the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association. “We need more supply. We need more housing. [And if] we have a housing affordability problem, then create more housing that creates price stability for people. If we have less supply prices go up,”

Smith says landlords and construction companies are concerned rent control will lead to less investment in housing, fewer construction jobs, and fewer available housing units in both cities.

“They have to think twice in the Minneapolis ballot measure. It’s asking the city council to create rent control, you can’t trust the city council to do it,” said Smith. “In St. Paul – think twice about it because it’s the most draconian rent control measure anyone could ever imagine in the United States of American,”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has said he is not in favor of traditional rent control.

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St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has not taken a position but says he looks forward to the policy discussion.

Reg Chapman