We have been the landlords of a duplex in the Midtown Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis since 2003. We became landlords to help with the severe shortage of affordable housing in Minneapolis.
All our tenants have lived on fixed incomes or on very limited incomes. We have come to understand firsthand how difficult paying rent, even at a below-market rate, can be for many people. And that difficulty increases as rents go up.
We became landlords because we wanted people to have a good, stable home, not so that we could make a quick buck at someone else's expense by spiking the rent whenever we felt like it.
We understand the expenses that landlords face in maintenance, property taxes, mortgage payments and insurance — and that there is nothing wrong in making a profit. But for the most part it is not individual landlords like us who cause the unexpectedly high increases in rents; it is mainly a few — usually out-of-state — larger corporations that often don't operate with much sense of the common good.
As members of Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, we strongly endorse rent stabilization. Rent stabilization will help keep many renters in their home. Rent stabilization will help those who struggle financially the most, and in the city of Minneapolis those low-income renters are primarily people of color.
Yet, we are mindful that while rent stabilization is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. What is needed are rent subsidies for all those who struggle with paying their rent. As people of faith, we believe that housing is a right for everyone.
We walk in our neighborhood almost every day. The past couple of years these walks have been difficult and heartbreaking as we see our sisters and brothers living in tents. We keep asking ourselves, what kind of a society allows this to happen? It does not have to be this way.
So, we are also supporting Beacon in their legislative effort called Bring It Home Minnesota. This legislation would provide renters throughout Minnesota with rent subsidies. We urge you to vote for rent stabilization this fall and ask your state representatives and senators to support Bring It Home Minnesota legislation in 2022.
These are both important measures to help end homelessness, and as we end homelessness, we become a stronger and safer city and state. We have the resources — we just need the will to make it happen.
Peter and Jane Eichten live in Minneapolis.