Housing is a fundamental human right. Getting everyone housed is a complex issue which requires nuance and understanding. I have been to encampments and personally helped unhoused people move into temporary and later permanent housing. I do not believe that encampments are an effective long term solution to homelessness. That being said, I do not understand why the current city leadership have allowed encampments to remain in place for months or years and then decide to clear them. Policies should be clear. Encampments do pose a number of safety issues particularly related to the ongoing Fentanyl crisis and human trafficking which we do have to acknowledge. Often, unhoused people won’t move into city or county shelters because of either addiction or the lack of privacy. We need to tackle the root causes, particularly Fentanyl, arguably the most dangerous drug to gain a foothold in this country. We also need to focus city and county resources on alternatives to encampments which include some form of privacy. I believe the city and county do need to spend as much of their resources as possible in this area.
A vibrant neighborhood business district is the solid backbone to a healthy, thriving neighborhood. As a local small business owner in Ward 12 for 8 years, I understand the amazing qualities and the struggles of small businesses. Small businesses provide employment and close-by shopping and services so residents don’t have to travel long distances. Unfortunately, small businesses are falling victim to high rents and space shortages. The requirement for new development to be mixed-use has created poorly designed commercial spaces that often sit vacant for years, which does nothing for a neighborhood and its vitality and limits employment opportunities for nearby neighbors. This requirement needs to be revisited and changed to enable our small businesses to thrive again in Minneapolis.
While I believe that the 2040 Plan was very well intentioned in terms of increasing the supply of affordable housing, I am concerned that the long term result will not be more affordable housing in the city. We need to recognize that many of the units being build are part of investment portfolios. I believe in home ownership so strongly because it builds equity and long term wealth. Racial and socioeconomic discrepancies in home ownership are concerning meaning that as the rental population goes up, this opportunity gap only widens. I want Minneapolis to support cooperative ownership of higher density properties to allow owners of smaller units to still own their homes just like the owners of single family homes do. That being said, we do need a strong supply of affordable rental units.