The authors of the Oct. 18 commentary “Private market must be a big part of the solution” to the Minnesota affordable-housing crisis assert that “in Portland and Seattle, thousands of new market-rate units have lowered rents in previously existing properties.” They appear not to have noticed that in Minneapolis, despite the recent development of huge numbers of new market-rate apartments, rents at all rent levels are soaring. So whatever might have happened in Seattle, it isn’t some sort of natural law that new market-rate development leads to reduced rent in older apartments. In fact, here, the private market is not only not a big part of the solution, it’s a big part of the problem. It is private-market actors that are acquiring affordable apartments, putting in granite countertops and raising the rent by hundreds of dollars. It’s surprising that some “experts” fail to notice what’s in front of them.
Jack Cann, St. Paul
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While I am less than eager to jump into a debate with economists over supply and demand, caution should be applied to the arguments made by Minneapolis Federal Reserve officials Ron Feldman and Mark Wright in their commentary “Private market must be a big part of the solution.”
Feldman and Wright argue that development of market-rate rental housing is critical to reducing the cost of housing. They cite Portland and Seattle as evidence: thousands of new units are lowering rents there, they say.
Granted, the supply of housing, be it new market-rate units or affordable, is a factor in rent setting. However, “market” development is a blunt instrument when public officials are trying to ensure housing affordability across the income spectrum and across geographies.
The Portland experience underscores the shortcoming of a market solution. While production of rental housing is up, it is skewed to smaller apartments. As a result, rent increases for one-bedroom apartments have slowed (to 2 percent) while rent increases for family-sized units have maintained their momentum (annual 5 percent increases).
Seattle, too, faces this challenge of the market providing units, but not efficiently responding to the need faced by larger low-income families. Furthermore, despite vigorous housing production in Seattle, the overall supply of low-income affordable units remains in a precipitous decline.
This is why city governments in both communities are committed to aggressive goals for affordable apartments — a 20,000 apartment 10-year production goal in Seattle, and 10,000 units over 20 years in Portland.
There is no argument with Feldman and Wright that over the long run more housing of any type helps with price stability. But the current crisis in the West Coast communities as well as in the Twin Cities warrants a public investment in affordable housing, particularly to benefit the larger-sized households that the market will be slowest to reach.
Chip Halbach, Minneapolis
The writer, a part-time housing consultant, founded the Minnesota Housing Partnership.
A tragedy, yes, but this is sure a lot of attention to one death
I do find the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the uproar it has created quite interesting. Not to give light to the murder of any human, but is this simply because he was a journalist, or is it more politically motivated?
Chicago had more than 600 murders last year. Baltimore more than 300.
As we move out of the United States, the numbers grow to huge proportions in the African nations and the Middle East.
On our southern border, the drug war consumed, by best estimates, more than 30, 000 lives last year, with most of the drugs sold right here in the good old USA. A second thought: Do the drug purchasers ever concern themselves over the lives lost?
Not to mention the number of killings of supposed terrorists by our own government through the use of drones since the beginning of the Afghan war.
In light of this, one has to wonder why the murder of this one man creates such an upheaval and the thousands of other murders do not even get honorary mention.
Bruce Granger, West Concord
UNDETECTED HEART DEFECTS
Perhaps electrocardiography should be routine for young people
My deepest sympathy to the family and friends who mourn the death of the 18-year-old man who died in his sleep recently from an undetected heart defect (“Prior Lake college freshman died of heart defect,” Oct. 19). Such a tragic and deeply felt loss.
Our son, too, was diagnosed with an unknown heart defect in college after he collapsed during a distance run with his teammates. He had passed all sports physicals and yearly well-child exams. Thankfully, he survived and now is monitored by a cardiologist who has said he will need heart surgery in a few years.
I have often wondered, after our own experience, if it would be prudent for young people to have an echocardiogram at some point in their youth to check for any unknown heart defect? Clearly these defects cannot be identified just with a stethoscope.
Wendy Clark, Maple Lake
MINNESOTA COURT OF APPEALS
Former state Supreme Court chief justice supports Lucinda Jesson
I am writing to encourage all citizens to vote for Judge Lucinda Jesson for the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Jesson has served on the court for three years and has demonstrated that she has the temperament, intellect and humility to serve us well.
I have known Judge Jesson for almost 20 years. Before her appointment to the Court of Appeals, she was an excellent lawyer and leader in our community. She has experience in private practice as well as public law having served as deputy attorney general and chief deputy Hennepin County attorney. She also has a record of leadership — most recently serving as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Human Services for five years.
On a more personal level, Judge Jesson enjoys being the mother of four sons, the wife of Peter, serving on nonprofit boards such as Lutheran Social Service, and playing the clarinet.
As a member of the legal community, I have long-admired Jesson’s professionalism, evenhandedness and commitment to our Minnesota community. We are fortunate to have such a qualified individual on the bench. I encourage all to support her election on Nov. 6.
Kathleen Blatz, retired chief justice,
Minnesota Supreme Court
‘HORSEFACE’ VS. ‘TINY’
Trump, disrespectful? What about Stormy Daniels?
Trump called Stormy Daniels “Horseface,” and apparently that’s not OK, as one writer recently observed in the Readers Write section (“And this is OK?” Oct. 18). But Stormy Daniels appeared as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, where she pointed out a mushroom that most represented Trump’s penis size, and claimed her nickname for him was “Tiny.”
And this is OK?
Maria Meade, Minneapolis
Actions have, well, consequences
The reason that the Iowa Hawkeyes football team are “Trophy hogs” (Oct. 7) when it comes to playing the University of Minnesota Gophers is simple: It’s karma. The University of Iowa and intrastate rival Iowa State University named their stadiums after legendary student football players, whereas the University of Minnesota sold its soul (i.e., naming rights) to a bank.
LaDonna Meinecke, Minneapolis