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Housing in Brief: Rent Control In Jersey City Is ‘Broken’

And in other housing news this week, Minneapolis looks toward ADUs and Denver may decriminalize camping on public property.

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‘Rent Control in Jersey City Is Broken,’ Councilmember Says

Jersey City’s Ward E Councilmember James Solomon recently released a report on rent control in the city’s downtown. His conclusion? Rent control is broken.

In a press release, Solomon said that landlords owning rent-controlled apartments have been ignoring rent-control laws, raising rents, ignoring disclosure requirements, and even demolishing buildings. More than half of the tenants interviewed by Solomon’s team said they didn’t even know they lived in a rent-controlled unit. Nine in ten said they weren’t given a statement, required by law, disclosing what the unit’s previous tenants had paid. And Solomon’s team found one rent-controlled unit renting for $5,850 per month, nearly four times the average rent in Jersey City.

Solomon argues that the city needs a publicly searchable database of all rent-controlled units in the city, outreach to tenants, and fines for landlords who don’t submit required paperwork. The Jersey Journal reports that the office of Mayor Steven Fulop said through a spokesperson that it is working to correct many of the issues in the report.

ADUs Making Tiny Dent in Minneapolis Housing Shortage

Since Minneapolis legalized accessory dwelling units in 2015, the city has permitted just 137 ADUs, MinnPost reports. That’s about what the city expected, as the program is meant to “add housing very gradually in neighborhoods, in a way that neighbors probably don’t even notice,” City Council President Lisa Bender told the publication.

But to really address Minneapolis’s affordable housing problems (like many metropolitan areas, Minneapolis and surrounding counties are losing more affordable housing than they’re adding), Minneapolis will have to beef up ADU production more. Right now, only 0.2 percent of single-family lots have an ADU. In Portland, which is undergoing a “modest ADU boom,” about 1.5 percent of lots have an ADU.

The high cost of building an ADU is one deterrent in Minneapolis. Regulations — such as a requirement that, until December 2018, mandated that owners of the single-family lot live on the property — were another deterrent.

“Now, there’s more support and awareness around the need for rental housing in our city, which is a majority renter city,” said Bender.

Denver to Vote on Ending Camping Ban

Denver adopted a ban on camping outside in 2012 to give police an opportunity to connect people experiencing homelessness to services. It’s not clear that’s happened, Denverite reports.

Police say that the low number of actual tickets and arrests handed out since the ban went into effect — just 29 citations and 3 arrests — is evidence that police are carrying out the intent of the law: connecting people to services.

But out of 12,000 encounters between police and people experiencing homelessness since 2012, it’s unclear how many people actually got the help they needed. Department of Human Services spokeswoman Julie Smith told Denverite that she didn’t know the exact number of people who received help. And a survey of 512 people experiencing homelessness conducted by Denver Homeless Out Loud in 2012 found that only about 4 percent of people got connected to services through interactions with police.

Denver residents will vote on whether to eliminate the ban on camping on election day, May 7.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Tags: homelessnessminneapolisrentjersey city

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