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Affordable Housing Preservation

Statement of William McGaughey
Candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis
running under the label “Affordable Housing - Preservation”

While I share the goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing with groups calling for a $10 million trust fund, I believe these groups are applying the wrong model to housing. Housing is a business, not a charitable enterprise to be funded by government. The funds for rental housing should be supplied primarily by private investors who expect to recover their investment from rents charged in the future. With sky-high rents in the Minneapolis area, that should not be hard to do.

The reason that the rental-housing market does not seem to work in this area is that investments in it are subject to an abnormal level of harassing regulation from city government. It would not cost $10 million per year for Minneapolis city government to turn over a new leaf and stop harassing private landlords. That is the better alternative which I advocate. Let the private sector do it.

 

Statement of William McGaughey
Candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis

Released: August 20, 2001

As a candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis running under the label of “Affordable Housing - Preservation”, I am disappointed by the decision of MICAH (Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing) to exclude me from participation in the Mayoral candidate forum on affordable housing on August 21st although I and other “minor” candidates will be allowed to speak briefly in the 20-minute period at the end of the program.

I contend that I am a major candidate with respect to affordable housing. I am an executive committee member of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee (the largest Minneapolis landlord group) and, to my knowledge, the only mayoral candidate who actually provides affordable housing for low-income city residents.

The issue goes beyond personal ego. It involves a philosophical difference between MICAH and myself as a private-sector landlord. Over the years, members of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee have made numerous overtures to the religious community in advancing what we believed to be a common interest - providing more affordable housing - and have found them little interested in what we had to say. Yet, we are persons who actually provide the affordable housing.

I can only conclude that MICAH is wedded to a particular approach, which involves persuading city or state government to devote large sums of taxpayer money to what it calls “affordable housing”. No doubt some of this money can be used to fund positions for housing advocates or otherwise be used in a manner which MICAH and other housing advocates dictate. The alternative approach, which I favor, would be to rely upon private investors to supply the bulk of funding to construct or repair housing. Even more urgently, I favor a moratorium on city-induced demolitions of structurally sound housing.

Religious organizations are good at raising money through donations. But this is not the proper model for housing. Housing is a business, not a charity. I believe that the housing market can work through application of normal free-market incentives if Minneapolis city government would end the “reign of terror” which has been directed against private-sector landlords during the past fifteen years. We should focus on reforming city government.

I ask this question: Would MICAH be satisfied if we simply had more housing and there were not a role for religious groups to play in the process? In other words, do housing advocates within the religious community want the housing, or do they want the money? If the former, I and other private-sector landlords may be able to work with them. If the latter, I would suggest that MICAH, Isaiah, and similar groups rethink their mission. The present approach is one which may have as much to do with energizing church memberships and making their organizations more relevant to today’s world as with helping people who need places to live.

Let the debate on affordable housing be broadened to include all options. Let the right questions be asked. Regardless of Tuesday’s debate, I will continue to insist that the voice of private-sector providers of rental housing be heard in “affordable housing” discussions.

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