Why Minnesota Candidates Should Prioritize Affordable Housing

Demand for luxury lifestyle apartments is way up, and investors are pouring money into hot markets like the Twin Cities. Some developers are constructing new buildings, but many are renovating older apartments by freshening up the paint, upgrading the appliances, adding a yoga room, and jacking up the rent.

As a result, affordable apartments are disappearing faster than they can be built or preserved, giving rise to a raft of problems. If people can’t find affordable housing, there are serious negative repurcussions for communities, businesses, and even schools.

In the documentary “Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk,” TPT explored the causes and effects when a developer bought Crossroads at Penn to convert it to luxury lifestyle apartments.

This is not a story about evil corporations. Investors and developers are just meeting the demand for luxury lifestyle apartments. But healthy cities need a range of housing options, not just a lot of new luxury lifestyle apartments. Right now, it’s as if all the cars available for sale were BMWs. What do you do if you need to commute for work but you can’t afford to spend $33,000+ on a car?

The only way to ensure there will be a range of housing options is government action. That’s why Minnesota desperately needs candidates to prioritize affordable housing. I’m pleased to see affordable housing on every leading Minneapolis mayoral candidates’ list of priorities (see the websites of Ray DehnJacob FreyBetsy Hodges, and Tom Hoch), but it isn’t just a Twin Cities problem. There isn’t enough affordable housing anywhere in Minnesota. I hope we’ll see affordable housing on the list of priorities of every candidate for governor, as well. And really every candidate for any Minnesota office should be thinking hard about how to solve the affordable housing shortage.

And fast, because the more affordable housing that disappears while our leaders drag their feet, the more expensive it will be to solve the problem.