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A recent headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune said that the city had won a fight against a landlord that owns property that houses more than 1,500 people.
On the surface, that seems correct. According to the article, the landlord was negligent, leaving his apartments without hot water or heat, vermin infestations and growing piles of trash.
But when and if the city revokes this man’s permits, where are those 1,500 people supposed to go?
The landlord owned low-rent apartments, which are scarce in the Twin Cities — and "scarce" is probably an understatement. Minneapolis has the second lowest vacancy rate in the nation behind New York City, and an average monthly rent of $925.
The Low Income Housing Coalition also recently ranked the state of Minnesota the least affordable state for housing in the Midwest.
“In order to afford the rent and utilities for a safe, modest two-bedroom apartment in the private housing market, a Minnesota worker must earn $15.50 per hour, 40 hours a week, all year long. By contrast, the typical renter in Minnesota earns $12.17 per hour. Minimum wage pays only $7.25 per hour.”
In the Twin Cities, the hourly wage needed to afford that apartment is even higher — $17.38 per hour.
This, combined with Minneapolis’ shrinking federal funds for community development, something that includes affordable housing, makes the city the perfect storm for those people looking for somewhere affordable to live. And the city isn’t offering much help.
The Star-Tribune said, “Despite the prospect of evictions, the city stands by its efforts to revoke the licenses as part of its continuing crackdown on negligent landlords.”
In a city where affordable housing is essentially nonexistent, how much since does it really make to further inconvenience those that have already been badly treated by their landlord? Where exactly does the city think they will find housing?
While these landlords should certainly be reined in, the city is forcing that to happen on the backs of those who need affordable housing the most. The city needs to try harder to find a different way.