Minneapolis is a city of children. 20% of our population is under the age of 18. Another 20% of our population are parents of these children. But where are they in our proposed 2040 Comp Plan?
For many people, having children is the trigger for buying a home. You need bedrooms for your children and you need space for more stuff. Maybe you want a yard for your children to play in. Maybe you want a dog. Maybe you want to garden with your kids. The Comp Plan proposes bulldozing single family homes and replacing them with fourplexes.
Most houses have three or four bedrooms while the fourplex housing will mostly have two bedrooms or less. In fact, because of the small size of many residential lots, much of this housing is forecast to be one room apartments or even “micro units,” which are 350 square feet or less. (definition from the Urban Land Institute). In addition, these fourplexes will take up the full lot, front to back, side to side meaning they will not have yards. We will be replacing housing that works for families with children with housing that does not.
The issue of affordable housing is really an issue of housing for families. When you are single, or even a couple, you have a wide variety of housing options – rent a room, share an apartment, micro unit, studio apartment, one bedroom. When you are a parent though, you need bedrooms for your children and yet, most landlords limit the number of children per bedroom. At the same time, families with children are under much more financial stress. Families with children make about 10% less than those without. (2014 American Community Survey) Yet they have to spend more for basic things like food and clothing because they have more people in their household. The affordable housing crisis is predominantly a family crisis.
New fourplexes built on single family lots will have housing too small for most families with children. The lot sizes are simply too small for multiple three or four bedroom units. The 2040 Comp Plan also proposes building 15-20 story apartment buildings in residential neighborhoods. The overwhelming majority of these units will be two bedrooms or less and they will be built without parking. New construction is expensive and most of these units will be not be affordable to families with children. The cost of a three bedroom apartment in the new 36 story skyscraper in Loring Park is $4800 a month. The cost per unit for projects selected for funding through 2017 Minneapolis Affordable Housing Trust Fund were $275,00 to $300,000 per unit. No new affordable housing will be built without government intervention, especially housing affordable to families with children.
Up-zoning will also increase the cost of housing. A lot that was once only usable for a single-family home will now be available for corporate-owned fourplexes. The land under that home will be worth more, driving home prices across the city higher. Increasing housing costs will just exacerbate the already difficult situation that most families are in.
Minneapolis needs to be a city that works for everyone. Fourplexes will not provide housing for children. Expensive new towers will not provide housing for children. Our existing houses need to be preserved to provide housing for children.
We need a Minneapolis that works for everyone, including families with children.