March Update, Jen Klose

Let’s talk about Minneapolis! Why, you ask? Because Minneapolis is the proof.

Minneapolis is the proof that when a city council gets serious about taking a clear-eyed look at the root causes of a housing crisis and its inequitable human impacts and resolves to find solutions, that it, a local elected body, can actually make significant headway toward solving said housing crisis. And fast. We don’t need the state and federal governments to rescue us—local government is largely responsible for the conditions that make it easy or hard to build.

And Minneapolis is the proof that a city council can be moved to adopt and implement transformational housing policy by a dedicated group of residents; the Minneapolis housing revolution started with a small but passionate group of individuals called Neighbors for More Neighbors. Yep, regular folks dedicated to a better future for our community, people like you and us at Generation Housing can inspire the doers (City and Town councilmembers and County Supervisors) to do the things that need to be done to ensure that we can keep building the housing we need. 

Local policy produces big results! In just 5 years, through local policy changes enacted between 2017 and 2022, Minneapolis increased it’s housing stock by 12%, homelessness decreased 12%, and rents rose by 1%—although when adjusted for rising wages, effective rents dropped 20%.

We can do this here! We must do this here! And “we” needs to include you. Neighbors for More Neighbors was not successful because it had a handful of staff and volunteers hustling around alone to do the research, education, and advocacy needed; it was because the work of that handful of hardworking staff and volunteers was supported and amplified by thousands of residents who signed petitions, wrote letters to the editor, placed signs in their yards, and showed up at council meetings to deliver public comment.

Generation Housing has proposed and is supporting the Right Size Impact Fee policy as an emergency ordinance effective until the later of three years or the City’s 6th Cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation (“RHNA”) obligations are met, as part of our North Bay NEXT Action Steps that calls on jurisdictions to take immediate action to address our worsening housing crisis. The current economic climate requires that our local leaders take bold steps to avoid a years-long slowdown to housing production. We need to do this NOW. To be clear, the Right Size policy is not a silver bullet, it must be the first of a series of reforms, but it’s the place we need to start.

We cannot wait for housing action while thousands of families sit on waitlists for affordable homes. We cannot wait for housing action while thousands make their homes on our streets. We cannot wait for housing action while thousands drive hours each day from more affordable counties to fill the essential jobs of our local economy. We cannot accept excuses of “we cannot afford it” from our elected officials, the same who name housing and homelessness as priorities, while thousands of families struggle to meet their basic needs because they pay too much for rent. We cannot afford to wait. We are Gen H, the people powering Generation Housing, and we are done waiting. Can Sonoma County do what Minneapolis did? You betcha.