Workers demand rent stabilization

The #HomeToStay coalition held a press conference this morning on the steps of city hall in Minneapolis, then the city council voted 11-2 in favor of its original proposal.

“It’s scary that a landlord can do whatever they want,” said Laura Carpenter, a food service worker in Minneapolis Public Schools and a member of SEIU Local 284. Carpenter, a renter in Minneapolis, has lived in places with lead paint on the walls, a nightmare situation for someone raising two kids.

“We just want room to breathe,” said Carpenter. “We don’t want to worry each year if we will see a massive rent increase. It’s exhausting to live in poverty...renters have so much to offer our communities, but we need stability.”

Deborah Cotton is a renter and nurse in Minneapolis raising three children with her husband Rickey. Cotton lost her job during the pandemic, but still had to pay utilities and hospital expenses for her daughter in addition to paying rent to her landlord. “They were able to sell the property from under us, which caused the bills to go up even more,” said Cotton. “I think it’s sad that they are giving more help to the landlords than they are thinking about the people who are renting these properties and get to make choices that mess up our life.”

The Home to Stay Coalition, which includes United Renters For Justice/Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia, ISAIAH, SEIU, Jewish Community Action, and Unidos MN, has been calling on the city’s Charter Commission to approve two amendments: one allowing the city council to adopt a rent stabilization ordinance or put one on the ballot for voters, and one allowing residents to petition to put an ordinance on the ballot.

The Charter Commission made recommendations to the city council’s original proposal from earlier this year, and after a few hours of legal analysis during the city council’s Policy and Government Oversight Committee meeting this afternoon, members voted 11-2 in favor of the original proposal. This is one step toward creating the process necessary to be able to introduce a rent stabilization policy in the future.

Read Minneapolis United for Rent Control’s statement on the pathway to rent control here. From the statement:

One of the main arguments the Charter Commission and the City Attorney tried to use against a renter-led ballot initiative was that it would establish a “majoritarian tyranny”. Organizers pointed out that when the Charter Commission says they want to protect minority interests, they mean the economic elite, like corporate landlords, developers, and out-of-state investors who continue to profit off this housing crisis. The feared majority in this case, are renters, working-class homeowners, and Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities, who are the most impacted by these skyrocketing rent increases.

How COVID-19 impacted restaurant workers nationwide

Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United released their 2020 State of the Restaurant Workers report based on public data and surveys. Some highlights:

  • Women make up 54% of all restaurant workers.

  • People of color make up nearly half of all restaurant workers.

  • One fifth of restaurant workers are immigrants.

  • More than a third of all women in the industry are mothers, over half of those are single moms.

  • Restaurant workers are living in poverty, and over 5.5 million lost their jobs in 2020.

  • In April 2020, the unemployment rate in the restaurant industry in Minneapolis/St. Paul was at 51.6%, statewide it was 50.9%.

Are you a restaurant worker? What has working through the pandemic been like for you?

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Good news!

  • Featured on Workday: Michael Moore (@unionadvocate) from Union Advocate reports on the staff at ACLU-MN winning union recognition from their organization!

  • Shannon Carlin (@new_girl_friday) from The Lily reports on Paralympic athletes achieving equal pay for the first time. From the article:

Previously, Paralympians were paid $7,500 for gold, $5,250 for silver and $3,750 for bronze. Now, every medal-winning U.S. athlete will be paid $37,500 for taking home gold, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze. 
  • More support for the PRO Act: Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) and Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) report in HuffPost that Democratic Senator Mark Kelly from Arizona said he is open to supporting parts of the PRO Act.

All these things are connected. We are each other’s harvest.