When CM Lisa Bender had her photo-op with the people holding signs that said "Rent Control Now," did she inform them that Minnesota state law prohibits cities from enacting rent control ordinances unless they are passed by voters in a general election?
Rent control won't become law in Minneapolis unless it's on the ballot and a majority votes for it. Somehow, I doubt Lisa Bender will be agitating to get it on the ballot. She is on record saying that she does not think rent control works. So why did she tweet this photo?
Did she tell these people what her position on rent control is? Did she tell them she thinks it "doesn't work" and why? I would have liked to have seen their reaction. I suspect that this photo would look very different if she had.
You're Wrong, Lisa: Rent Control Does Work
My first apartment was in Astoria, Queens. I'd just graduated from Sarah Lawrence and intended to start the next chapter of my life in New York City. My apartment was a one bedroom just off of Steinway Street (yes, that Steinway, of piano fame). The subway was just around the corner, and Queens' multi-cultural restaurants -- Greek, Colombian, Egyptian, Italian, Chinese -- where everywhere. I paid $1195 per month.
It was a rent stabilized apartment. The next year, it increased to $1250. When it was time for me to renew my lease, I received a notice that showed me how much I could expect to pay in the year to come and the year after that. The building was not crumbling or in disrepair. Landlords in Astoria still made plenty of money. They just couldn't raise rents unreasonably or displace people by deciding to rent to a "better class" of people.
In my current apartment, which is nicer than the one I had in Queens, I pay roughly $300 less than what I paid in New York. But many of my friends here in Minneapolis have had their landlords increase their rents by $200 or more. I worry constantly that this will happen to me and I'll have to give up an apartment that I love. A rent stabilization ordinance would ensure that the increase would be predictable and within the range that my income could absorb.
So when Lisa Bender says she thinks rent control doesn't work, I would like to know what she means by that. Is it perfect? No. But it does provide some protection against exploitation by landlords. And it's a hell of a lot better than nothing.