Check Your Homeowner Privilege

You’ll be a hit with longtime residents at your next public hearing with these business cards (2 x 3½). Available in two formats (standard & extra special), they are a subtle reminder for homeowners speaking at public meetings against renters, density, windows– what have you– in ways that only acknowledge the lived experiences of homeowners. Download the free printer-friendly PDF now, or simply use these images.

Art Discussion Update

Some folks have pointed out to us that someone (we don’t know who — if it’s you, please stop) has been printing artwork available on the N4MN blog and is distributing it anonymously to homes in at least one area of Minneapolis. This has caused some confusion and concern, so we wanted to set the record straight.

We created this card about a year ago, when Neighbors for More Neighbors existed mostly to produce artistic, tongue-in-cheek commentary on housing politics. We (just a couple of renters at the time) created it because we see housing policy spaces dominated by homeowners who oppose things that benefit people like us. The message was never that pro-renter homeowners are a problem. This is about checking people who haven’t yet thought about how society offers status and privilege to people who own their homes.

We look at the Comp Plan as an example: a lot of the opposition is led by homeowners from South and Southwest Minneapolis, who probably haven’t been exposed to the history of how housing policy segregated our city and denied housing opportunities in historically redlined neighborhoods. If some homeowners in South and Southwest get their way at opting out from good pieces of the Comp Plan, this has the effect of putting pressure on majority renter neighborhoods, and neighborhoods with less political power that are already feeling the effects of a housing shortage. That is absolutely worth calling out.

The inspiration for the cards is based on our experience at numerous public meetings. Many of us have been in rooms where a decidedly nasty tone was set by homeowners who have told us that we don’t contribute to neighborhoods, that people like us bring crime, and basically that they would prefer renters not live there. In those moments, homeowner allies weren’t there to speak up, even though we know they exist.

As our organization exists today, we’ve got many homeowners helping to build Neighbors for More Neighbors, people who use their ownership class privilege for the benefit of all, to support more homes and an affordable city with space for everyone.

We suspect someone dug this up to cause trouble for us because they’re not willing to hear our vision of a better Minneapolis that focuses on a future where, no matter your housing status, we all share equal space in policy discussions. These cards have been misused to stir up divisions amongst people who should otherwise be working together; the people using these cards are ignoring the full commentary that these cards were intended to deliver.

P.S. A co-founder of our organization, Ryan Johnson, wants it known that he owns creating this, and thinks it’s interesting to see the discussion it’s created.