Stephanie Ericsson-Hinton estimates she would spend 75% of her Social Security income on housing if Dominium, a Plymouth-based developer of affordable housing, increases her rent by 8% as planned. She claims that since she cannot afford the co-pays, she already cancels medical visits. She went to a food shelf for the first time ever two weeks ago.
During a tenant speak-out held on Monday in front of the Legends at Berry apartments, which are situated on Berry Street in St. Paul, and sponsored by ISAIAH and the Housing Justice Center, 69-year-old widow Ericsson-Hinton remarked, “I can make a dollar stretch, but there’s no more stretch.”
The new rent control law for the city of St. Paul, which aims to restrict rent increases at 3 percent yearly, is scheduled to be amended with a number of competing proposals on Wednesday.
The changes aim to define, broaden, and, in certain situations, restrict the sorts of landlord exemptions.
The “rent stabilization” policy, which St. Paul residents adopted in November, is among the nation’s harshest and has halted the development of new rental housing, according to city officials.
Council Member Chris Tolbert proposed a multi-part amendment this summer that would, among other things, exclude affordable housing built with low-income housing tax credits or supported by Section 8 housing vouchers. Additionally, new development would be excluded for 20 years, with the clock or lookback period beginning 20 years ago.
Tolbert stated, “This isn’t anything set in stone. “This has to be sculpted,” the speaker said.
Mitra Jalali, a council member, intends to present four of her own modifications, some of which are intended to reverse Tolbert’s proposed revisions.
Jalali said, “I’m attempting to restore tenant protections to a program that will destroy them for many people. There are portions of the Tolbert amendment that go too far, but there are other sections that do make the essential changes to implementation.
On Wednesday, councilwoman Rebecca Noecker and economist and former head of the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development Bruce Corrie are set to offer their own modifications.
At 3:30 PM, the public hearing is supposed to start.
Concern has been voiced by members of a municipal task committee on rent control about what has been described as a sharp decline in the building of new multifamily housing in St. Paul. Although local authorities stress that year-to-year comparisons might be deceptive, some developers have reported a decline of 80%.
City Council President Amy Brendmoen has requested that city planners do a comparative review of building permits granted for multi-family development dating back about five years in order to better understand the magnitude of the slowdown.
Tolbert proposed a number of prospective rent control measures in the latter part of July. Among them, until 20 years after a new building certificate of occupancy is obtained, with a 20-year lookback period, new housing development would be free from the 3 percent restriction on yearly rent increases.
Jalali has presented four of her own ideas, some of which are in response to Tolbert’s. They include things like asking the city to increase tenant notifications when developers ask for rent control exemptions and doing rid of a lookback period that would automatically exclude real estate built in the previous 20 years.
Her first amendment, which dealt with tenant communication, would call for the Department of Safety and Inspections of the city to inform renters whenever a landlord requests a rent control exemption. It would give renters an additional 45 days to challenge the city’s ultimate decision.
Right present, according to Jalali, “you don’t even know if your landlord is seeking an exception, and then you only get informed if they were,”
Tolbert’s amendment’s “just cause” notifications and relocation aid are addressed in her second amendment. Jalali has argued against putting the word “disorderly behaviour” among the acceptable “just cause” grounds for a landlord to refuse to renew a lease since it is undefined and arbitrary. She pointed out that other clauses, such a substantial violation of the lease, would still apply in cases of property damage or violence towards one tenant.
The same proposal would mandate landlords to provide relocation aid to tenants who are evicted as a result of landlord-driven measures, such as upgrading a property.
Jalali’s third amendment would guarantee that rent control applies to certain categories of inexpensive subsidized housing, including as rental housing supported by federal Section 8 vouchers and low-income housing tax credits. Developers like Dominium have argued that because of federal and local agreements that transcend city-driven rent control legislation, housing built with low-income housing tax credits is exempt.
According to Jalali, “it essentially restores what the original rent control law enacted by voters was.”
Public housing that is under federal management is immune from the ordinance that voters adopted in November.
Tolbert’s planned 20-year retroactive and future exemption for new building would be modified by her fourth amendment, which would reduce it to 15 years with no lookback time.
Tolbert’s suggested 20-year exception for new development has been modified further by Corrie, the previous PED director.
According to Corrie’s proposal, the landlord would have to agree to keep the units affordable for more than 30 years and at least 10% of the units would have to be affordable to households earning no more than 30% of the area median income in order for affordable housing that receives public assistance to qualify for the 20-year exemption.
A developer would also be required, under Corrie’s proposal, to pay.005% of the project cost into the city’s housing trust fund to support initiatives for low-cost home ownership and rental housing.