MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minneapolis City Council on Thursday passed a resolution creating a work group tasked with making recommendations for a rent control policy in the city, after voters approved a ballot measure last November authorizing the council to set rent restrictions.

The work group has to submit a report to the council by the end of the year that includes a framework for the rent increase cap, any policy exemptions and how to enforce it. The goal is to have multiple perspectives informing a proposal that will again go to voters in 2023.

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“I want this process to allow the time required to thoughtfully deliberate policy options that will work for this community, not merely take examples from other places and try to force them to work in this community,” said Andrea Jenkins, the city council president. “Minneapolis is a community that has a majority of renters so this issue is critical to our constituents.”

The 23-member work group would include renters, property owners, developers, advocacy and policy organizations, and a lender. The city’s Community Planning and Economic Development Department will help coordinate the effort.

The resolution passed Thursday afternoon but not without robust and, at times, heated debate from council members, some of whom pushed the council to scrap plans for a work group and craft the policy on its own with its legislative authority to get it on the ballot a year earlier this fall.

Council member Aisha Chughtai, who said 80% of her constituents are renters, pressed to move quickly and warned the council could miss its opportunity to act rent control the longer a delay, citing an effort at the state legislature to prevent local governments from enacting rent control ordinances that voters approve. That proposal at the capitol is retroactive to before the November election.

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“This is what the people asked us to do and we are here to act on their will,” she said. “This is a quick timeline, I acknowledge that. But this is the work of the people, this is the work we signed up for. It matters that we take action now while we still have the opportunity to.”

Renters gathered at city hall urging the council to act swiftly. They had favored Chughtai’s proposal to get a rent control policy on the ballot in 2022 that ultimately failed during an hours-long discussion.

“Our main message today is we need a policy this year,” said Jennifer Arnold, co-director of United Renters For Justice and a member of the Home to Stay coalition. “It’s really great there is a way to move forward and every month we wait, more renters are evicted.”

The Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, which represents property owners, said it did not have comment on the work group’s formation. The group opposed the Minneapolis ballot question and one in St. Paul, where voters approved an ordinance creating a 3% cap on annual rent increases. 

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St. Paul is aiming to have its rent control ordinance take effect May 1.

Caroline Cummings