Golden Valley Considers Tenant Protection Ordinance
The city of Golden Valley wants to do what it can to help tenants caught up in the Twin Cities metro’s growing affordable housing crisis. The Golden Valley City Council this week approved the first reading of a tenant protection ordinance.
“This is a first step. In my mind, it’s a micro-step,” said Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris.
The ordinance would provide protection for tenants of an affordable housing complex who could be forced to move because of an ownership change. According to Golden Valley affordable housing advocate Alfred Lewald, affordable housing is considered no more than 30 percent of a person’s income. The median rental in the city is $1,123, he said.
The metro area has seen examples of older apartment buildings become affordable. It’s commonly called “naturally occurring affordable housing.” When new owners decide to invest in the property, rents usually increase and the complex is no longer considered affordable.
Ordinance Calls for Relocation Assistance
Under the ordinance, Golden Valley would require new owners to pay relocation assistance to affordable housing tenants. That’s if the tenants are forced to vacate before a period of 90 days. That assistance would range from $2,600 for a studio to $4,100 for a three-bedroom. After the 90-day period, no assistance would be required.
Golden Valley city officials say the issue especially impacts seniors on fixed incomes or young adults just entering the workforce. Mayor Harris says 39 percent of the city’s residents are senior citizens. He wasn’t sure how much of that group was on fixed incomes, but believes it’s growing.
“The solution remains elusive. And it’s not just for our senior citizens.” said Harris at Tuesday night’s council meeting. “We’re also creating more challenges for our school district and our kids who are trying to learn and who are trying to advance. I really do want to challenge all of us to keep this conversation going.”
It’s unclear if the ordinance would hold up in court should apartment owners challenge it.
“Maybe I’m a little more risky when it comes to this type of work, but I feel it’s worth it,” said Harris.
A few other cities are considering similar ordinances. The city of St. Louis Park already approved a tenant protection ordinance. Bloomington and Richfield are other cities considering one.