2021 Minneapolis City Council Housing Questionnaire: Ward 6

A coalition of local organizations sponsored this questionnaire to help voters understand where each candidate stands on issues that shape whether every person can find and afford a home in Minneapolis.

We collectively submitted, refined, and selected these questions and invited campaigns of all candidates to respond. We will continue to accept responses and thank those who have participated. Their responses are published verbatim.

The only party holding caucuses for Minneapolis races is the DFL. For more information about participating in the Minneapolis DFL Caucuses in April, see minneapolisdfl.org/. For information on the 2021 November elections, see https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/calendar/.

Sponsors: Envision Community; IX (Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia); Neighbors for More Neighbors; NRRC; Wedge LIVE!; Zacah 


Candidate responses: 

  • Jamal Osman – incumbent: responded

Q1: In a city where more than half of people rent, what housing policies would you focus on to ensure that every Minneapolis resident has a safe, stable, affordable home?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: I have supported advancing the rent control charter amendments to the voters and am excited for the opportunity for that vote this fall. I am also a co-author and supporter of TOPA, and the proposed eviction protections. Moving forward we have to find ways to create and preserve affordable housing. The existing tool chest has limitations and drawbacks and we need be creative in finding new tools, and how we think about affordable housing finance in the first place.

Q2: Do you support rent stabilization, just cause protection, pay or quit, city-funded legal services for those facing eviction, and other tenant protections? How will you work to pass these policies?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: Yes. I support all three. I will work with my colleagues to build the policies that can best protect the renters while securing the necessary 7 vote coalition to pass ordinances. Being a legislator has been an education in the collaboration of the legislative process and as a CM the best thing I can do is advance the most aggressive pro-renter policies possible.

Q3: Encampments of unhoused people have become common on public land in Minneapolis in recent years. What will you do to protect the people who see encampments as their best housing option, to connect them to a safe and stable permanent home?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: I am here to protect and work for the safety of my residents. After my first months on the job I am deeply concerned about our unhoused residents in encampments, and frankly think the best protection for them, aside from the immediate assurance of their safety, is more permanent housing.

Between: exposure, fire, illnesses, falling prey to drug dealers and criminals, and a lack of basic facilities for human dignity being unhoused in an encampment is a precarious position. Working collaboratively with the county (as the human services provider), our local non-profits, and community members I want to find the support and the comfort people in encampments need– and to use that to build to them being in more permanent housing.

In the short term, this question, has another answer, and this answer is actually shared by a lot of issues around homelessness and the funding and provision of affordable housing. We have to continue to find ways to work better together across governments. The City, County, MetCouncil, State, and community partners all have roles, opportunities and specialties– but are we all working towards the same end, together? And the only way to work on that is collaboration and communication, something I am committed to with other elected officials. I’m not in this for the shine, if I need to elevate others work to get the work done I’m joyful.

Q4: SROs and rooming houses have historically been the most affordable homes available, and an important option for people transitioning out of homelessness. They were largely outlawed during zoning reforms decades ago, and nonprofits like Alliance Housing that manage some of the few remaining rooming houses say they do not have enough space. Would you vote to relegalize this housing option in all parts of Minneapolis?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: Yes! I want to legalize and explore options like rooming houses, co-housing, or other semi-independent living opportunities.

Q5: Minneapolis has enacted a number of reforms recently to expand access to more housing types in all neighborhoods — including legalizing ADUs, triplexes, and apartments in some places they’d previously been banned. Do you support this work? If so, what are some ways you’d build on it as a member of the city council?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: Yes. Aside from working through the legislative and policy details on the implementation of the land use in the 2040 plan I think the most meaningful thing I can do to advance this work is by advocating for, and lobbying for increased financing options that allow individuals and small investors (of color!) to capitalize on these changes and gain access to the same wealth so many white people have.

Wells Fargo has a big presence in Ward 9, I want to see them and other big banks work harder to help all of the members of our community both build good housing options and wealth.

Q6: Affordable housing funding is precious, and public subsidy often builds homes that are still too expensive for the people struggling the most, with studio apartment rents over $1,000, and 4 bedroom rents up to $1800. How would you use zoning, TIF, or other city-controlled tools to legalize less expensive homes so that affordable housing funding can support the lowest income residents of Minneapolis?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: The city has existential questions we should face about how we support affordable housing. We must use all of those tools to benefit the MOST affordable housing, housing for the lowest AMIs and the unhoused. Using the tools we have towards that end instead subsidizing affordable housing in higher AMIs is the best thing morally and I would argue as a long term value to our citizens and community.

As said above I support the expansion of increased zoning flexibility. Where I come from there aren’t single family home zones, and commercial zones, and apartment zones, and I think we find ways to build sustainable, dynamic, and lively places without those rules, and probably because of it.

Q7: Our city has grown by 53,000 people in the last 9 years. Do you believe that Minneapolis should make space for more people as our city grows? If so, what is the best way to do that and also ensure that BIPOC communities and people who made Minneapolis their home before the current growth can stay in their communities if they want?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: There is never a “No Vacancy” light over a truly welcoming and vibrant city. For anyone. We should work with state partners to identify some new tools around housing finance to help fund affordable housing development, and to derive some wealth from flippers and developers who extract a lot from our communities. If you’re going to make this a more fashionable and desirable place to be, we must keep space for the people who make it all work.

Those are the people I represent. The service workers, the AirBnB cleaners, the truckers who deliver goods. And they deserve places to live and enjoy themselves in this city, and it is possible. We know it is possible because of examples around the world, we can find ways to do it here.

Q8: The city has the ability to pass a public housing levy. Would you vote to use that levy to the maximum extent?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: I am not going to commit to use any tax on people to its fullest extent. Acknowledging that; we need more money to fund our public housing. Taxes can be a pressure on a lot of poor people who are trying to own their homes and people on fixed incomes. We need use all of the tools we have in concert to fund public and affordable housing. Minneapolis has to be a place where everyone can afford to live and we have to navigate all the challenges that come with that.

Q9: Given our history of redlining, exclusionary zoning, freeways, slum clearance, and urban renewal, what is your vision for an equitable and restorative way of building a better Minneapolis for all?

Jamal Osman – incumbent: We need to reclaim the city. For poor people, for immigrants, for humans and not cars. By reducing our highways and finding more efficient ways to move goods we can reduce air pollution in the most impacted communities. By capping or removing freeways where we can we give the city the chance to reclaim tax base, provide new building opportunities, and reclaim the city as a place for people to be, not cars to travel through.

Planning for all of these needs to include the communities impacted negatively by decades of these decisions, and the economic opportunity that comes from building a more inclusive future has to include businesses, contractors and developers that come from those impacted communities.

Q10: If there are any other thoughts you’d like to add, please use this space to do so.

Jamal Osman – incumbent: Before coming to the council, I was a tenant advocate at CommonBond communities. That has informed a lot of my attitudes and positions about affordable housing.

Everyone deserves housing. I’ve known what it’s like to be housing insecure and what it does to people.

Everyone deserves good housing. We live in the richest country in the world, and housing that people can live in that is safe, clean, and allows people to live in dignity is a small investment in our city.

Everyone deserves support to live a dignified life. The services that we can provide in this area are incredible and should be coordinated to help those who need it.

The last 6 month have taught me so much about how government works and the systems that we operate in. From the journey I’ve had as a refugee and an immigrant, and as a tenant advocate I’ve learned so much and there is now so much to do in this role to help others who have been in places like I’ve known.