2021 Minneapolis City Council Housing Questionnaire: Ward 11

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: 

  • Dillon Gherna: responded
  • Emily Koski: responded
  • Jeremy Schroeder – 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?

Dillon Gherna: For the majority of my 14 years in Minneapolis I have been a renter in various parts of the city. My journey in Minneapolis started out rocky, having spent two months living in my car when I moved here and worked to be able to afford renting a couch from a colleague, I know first hand the value of having safe and stable housing. I support tenant protections from landlords who seek to provide substandard living conditions, which I personally experienced in a previous apartment that I rented from one of the cities most notorious landlords for these conditions. I support growth that is balanced and focuses on truly providing safe and affordable housing for individuals from all walks of life. For example, there is a need in our city for larger than two bedroom apartments but those are rarely available and are less likely to be developed. I also support creating pathways to ownership whether through single family homes, townhomes, condos, etc. which supports our community by creating opportunities for wealth. I do not think apartments are the only answer and should not be our only focus as we grow and tackle our affordable housing challenges as a city.

Emily Koski: Everyone deserves access to safe, stable, affordable housing. The City Council has a responsibility to all residents of Minneapolis to work to produce and preserve housing opportunities that fit these standards. As a City Councilmember I will focus on expanding affordable housing opportunities, protecting the rights of renters, and ensuring justice and equity in our housing practices. I will work to prioritize the development of affordable housing in addition to protecting and maintaining the existing affordable housing options. Further I will work with developers to produce more homeownership and housing opportunities city wide.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: Everyone deserves a safe, stable and affordable place to call home and I have worked tirelessly to move us toward that reality. My work has focused on both our urgent, immediate needs as Minneapolis faces a rise in unsheltered homelessness, as well as long-term needs aimed at stabilizing our housing market. Most recently, I have changed City law to ease restrictions on emergency shelters, allowing more of them to operate. This builds on my work this term to allow Intentional Community Cluster Developments, an innovative low-barrier housing model co-created by folks experiencing homelessness and championed by health professionals that bridges a critical gap on our housing continuum. Building on this ongoing work to expand housing options in our community, I am currently working on an ordinance to re-legalize single room occupancy dwellings that can provide an ultra-affordable option for our lowest-income neighbors. Additionally, I co authored our Inclusionary Zoning ordinance which requires affordable units in new developments — a critical measure that holds developers accountable to our affordable housing and equity goals. I am also coauthoring the forthcoming Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Ordinance, which will give renters the opportunity to purchase the home they have been living in and would allow more Minneapolitans to build generational wealth alongside stabilizing their housing.

Finally, in addition to providing stable and affordable homes, our housing policies must support climate action. The Sustainable Building Policy I co-authored will ensure that new construction in Minneapolis, including residential projects, will meet higher sustainability standards. This is a benefit to the people who live in these buildings as well as the planet.

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?

Dillon Gherna: I support tenant protections, legal support for those facing evictions, and similar protections that focus on assisting those going through housing insecurity or experiencing a situation such a eviction with the resources they need to be able to secure stable housing. I believe housing is a human right, everyone deserves access to housing and to feel secure in that setting. If elected, I will work with my colleagues, community members, and county/state/federal partners to ensure we tackle this issue on a city level as well as use the influence of that to help support change more broadly. Collaboration is the core focus of good policy development and that work is what I have done my entire career.

Emily Koski: Yes, I support rent stabilization, just cause protection, pay or quit, city-funded legal services for those facing eviction, and other tenant protections. I will work to pass these policies by creating partnerships with organizations and advocacy groups, building community support through communication and collaboration, and building coalition with fellow City Councilmembers to achieve our shared goals.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: I support these policies and in addition to voting for them, I will continue working to educate community members about how these policies are a necessary part of a healthy and equitable housing market.

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?

Dillon Gherna: Encampments in our city have become a go-to solution for too many individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are unsheltered. As we have observed in our city, encampments have, in many cases, become dangerous areas for violent crimes and victimization of those already in a position of vulnerability. My stance has always been a wrap-around approach to partnership with mental health, substance abuse, medical care, housing, and long-term stability resources. This is accomplished with city services/departments and county support services.

Emily Koski: We must protect the residents of Minneapolis that are living in encampments and work to connect them to safe and stable permanent homes. Homelessness is a public health crisis, and it is imperative that our City Council addresses it as such.

We must prioritize the development of affordable housing in addition to protecting and maintaining the existing affordable housing options. Further we must work to make our affordable housing opportunities as accessible as possible and take specific care in connecting our homeless and unsheltered residents with these opportunities.

Further, the City Council must address the root causes of homelessness. We must continue the City’s partnership with NAMI and other mental health services providers in a way that leverages creative problem solving. We must address the social determinants of health that lead to homelessness by making services such as food support, workforce training, and medical services available in city and park-owned facilities. Finally, we must provide financial support for up-stream medical services that identify crisis moments early.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: I will continue to support funding for outreach and services for the unhoused. Additionally, I am one of the authors of the Transforming Public Safety Charter amendment which would create a new department of Public Safety. One proposed part of this department is to create a non-police response to unsheltered people which would better and more compassionately connect people experiencing homelessness with services.

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?

Dillon Gherna: I would support the expansion of this critical resources for transitional housing. The longer-term goal is to help individuals that are unsheltered, gain stable and safe housing on a permanent basis which leads to improvements in all aspects of ones life. As with anything that has been removed, I would want to fully understand why this was outlawed in zoning reforms, fully understand the need in our community, and look at the potential options to tackle this issue. If it makes sense for us to open it up, I would support something like this with the focus on not leaving anyone out of the fold.

Emily Koski: I would vote to relegalize SROs and rooming houses as housing options in all parts of Minneapolis. I believe that there is room for additional SROs and rooming houses throughout the city and understand that when well-maintained it can be a physical asset to the neighborhood. We must work with organizations and neighborhoods to make more of these housing opportunities a reality. Further, we must preserve, rehabilitate, and stabilize our existing SROs and rooming houses.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: Reintroducing SRO-type units to Minneapolis is a top priority of mine, which is why I am leading development of an ordinance that would do just that. This housing type has an important role to play in our housing continuum, providing a low-cost and low-barrier option that can help folks transition out of homelessness into permanent housing. We lack deeply affordable housing options, and allowing this housing type is a key way to increase the number of units that meet this need. At a time when Minneapolis is experiencing a heartbreaking rise in unsheltered homelessness, we need to thoughtfully add housing options and undo outdated regulations and red tape that prevent housing and service providers from meeting the needs of our community. I am grateful for the leadership of these advocates who have helped us develop this ordinance every step of the way.

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?

Dillon Gherna: I support the expansion of housing that is affordable, supportive of our city’s needs, creating pathways to ownership, and accessible to all. If all we do is build apartments around our city, we are benefiting developers primarily, however, if we invest in growth such as a triplex of condos, we have now allowed a pathway to wealth generation for an individual who otherwise may spend hundreds more on rent every month and gain no wealth. I support apartments and growth that takes into consideration the large number of families that do not have comfortable housing because they are fitting 4-6 people in a one bedroom, we need housing that takes families into consideration. We need housing that recognizes the aging community, disabled individuals in our community, and families of color. I support smart development that truly looks at growth in a way that is inclusive of equal opportunity for all individuals (rentals, tenant protections, ownership). Similar to a previous point, this starts with collaboration on the path forward. 2040 is a guiding document to support our growth, but we must truly analyze how we use it in practical application and be cognizant of those we are potentially leaving out.

Emily Koski: I support the work that has been to expand access to more housing types in all neighborhoods. As a City Councilmember I will prioritize the development of affordable housing, and work with developers to produce more homeownership and housing opportunities across the city. Further, I will work to diversify our housing sector to meet the needs of Minneapolis residents – i.e. variation in size, type, affordability, and location of housing. I would also work to find ways to incentivize the production of more affordable housing opportunities for neighborhood organizations, nonprofits, developers, etcetera.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent:  I support this work and have helped guide it as chair of the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee, a member of the Planning Commission, and a leader on the Minneapolis 2040 Steering Committee — a body which is now shepherding implementation of the nationally recognized comprehensive plan that expanded housing options in Minneapolis at a time when we face a housing affordability crisis. Every day, I am working to ensure everyone in Minneapolis has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing — and expanding housing options in a thoughtful, intentional way is critical work I will continue going forward. As I mentioned above, I am currently working on an ordinance that would once again allow SRO-type units in Minneapolis. I have consistently supported innovative housing solutions, particularly ones that serve neighbors experiencing the deepest need. As someone who spent years before my time in office as an affordable housing advocate, I understand how important housing is to our overall success, as individuals and as a community. It is a non-negotiable for me that this work continues at City Hall. In addition to broadening housing options in Minneapolis, I will continue to focus on tracking outcomes of recent housing policies to make sure they are delivering the intended outcomes.

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?

Dillon Gherna: As referenced in the question, there are a number of tools at our disposal to assist in creating truly affordable housing or allowing incentives to drive down the high cost of so many rental properties in our city. We can utilize a number of strategies to tackle some of these issues such as TIF for developers as an incentive to build affordable housing options. Similarly to a previous question, I would not claim to be an expert on all of the tools at our disposal because I am not currently serving but I would be open to exploring the tools, partnering with our city department leaders to ensure we are leveraging those tools to assist our lowest income residents. Much like previous stated, I also know we have to assist in resources and creating pathways to wealth generation and ownership.

Emily Koski: Affordable housing is a limited commodity in Minneapolis. We must prioritize the development of affordable housing and protect existing affordable housing options throughout the city so that we have enough affordable housing opportunities to support the lowest income residents of Minneapolis. As a City Councilmember I will work with housing experts to asses zoning regulations that act as obstacles for the production of affordable housing options, and research how TIF programs could be used in Minneapolis. Further I believe we can do more with tax abatement to make existing housing units more affordable throughout the city.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: This is the critical question that anyone serious about providing a safe, stable and affordable home for everyone must answer, and as the chair of the City’s Zoning and Planning committee and as a housing advocate, I have utilized all of these options as well as added to the tools available to create more affordable housing without subsidy. As I stated earlier, I am an author of both the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance as well as the SRO ordinance, both critical policies that will allow more affordable housing to be built.

In addition to these tools, I have also made adoption of new technologies in building housing a priority, an example is my ordinance to expand the building of ultra affordable, highly sustainable building. Manufactured housing, or factory built housing, offers the potential to create housing units more affordability with less waste and more energy efficiency. I’m excited to be a part of a group of leaders statewide who are exploring this option, proven in other markets, and imagining how it could serve us locally. As these technologies progress, I will continue to work in partnership with allies at the state and local levels to make sure Minneapolis is ready to welcome this type of deeply affordable housing development.

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?

Dillon Gherna: I have supported balanced growth throughout our city. I have said since day one that I am not a believer that building apartments around our city will solely deal with the affordable housing crisis we are experiencing nor will it solve the issue of others being left out of the fold such as our BIPOC communities. The city has to make investments in the growth of our community in a way that is not forcing anyone to leave their current housing situation, is expanding the offerings of a given neighborhood such as transportation, parks, schools, businesses, and other critical services to continue to give those who want to stay in their community, the ability to do so.

Emily Koski: As Minneapolis’s population grows, our housing sector must grow as well to accommodate for more people, further the City Council should use this as an opportunity to take action towards creating more affordable housing opportunities and employing justice and equity in our housing sector. I believe that as we work to accommodate our growing population, we must take steps to increase not only housing supply, but diversity and affordability in all neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis. We must take a multifaceted approach that focuses not only on creating opportunities for future residents of Minneapolis but preserving opportunities for current residents of Minneapolis.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: Yes, Minneapolis has to make more space as the city continues to grow because without it, either current residents at-risk of losing their housing will be priced out or those with financial stability will go elsewhere, only furthering the historic segregation of our city.

While I am committed to expanding the capacity Minneapolis has, that work had to include giving people the option to stay in their communities. Rent stabilization is one step to help protect current renters against rising prices due to more demand for housing in Minneapolis, along with the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase ordinance which would give community members the option to purchase the home they have been living in.

Expanding Minneapolis also means giving equal access to the city, especially to our BIPOC communities. The work begun with the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance will help expand affordable housing to every neighborhood in Minneapolis and allow historically redlined communities access into spaces that they have been denied.

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

Dillon Gherna: As stated above previously, I would want to fully understand this issue, engage the community, engage city leaders, and have a plan for what this will fund specifically. If after that engagement, this makes sense for our community, our future growth, and the residents throughout our ward/city, I would support it, if it does not make sense, I would not support it and provide my reasoning why I would not.

Emily Koski: As a City Councilmember I would be supportive of a levy for public housing. The extent of the public housing levy would be dependent on the overall tax levy as well as the resulting property taxes to be paid by the properties across the city. We must ensure that the public housing levy is used to the maximum extent within a limitation that it doesn’t inadvertently price residents out of their homes.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: Yes, the City is in the middle of a housing crisis. Other municipalities have maximized their public housing levies to help preserve the affordable housing they have and Minneapolis needs to follow their lead. Once affordable housing is lost, it is too late.

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?

Dillon Gherna: Ward 11, much like the rest of our city has a history of redlining and exclusionary zoning. The first thing I believe we need to do, is look at housing from a lens of recognizing what has occurred, what is still occurring that is not equitable, and steps that we can realistically make quickly and longer term to right this wrong in our communities history. This starts by not only addressing the need for affordable, equitable housing, but also creates pathways to home ownership for wealth generation.

Emily Koski: Our housing history has created deep racial disparities across our city. In the 11th Ward specifically the redlining that occurred forced our families of color out. It’s imperative that we create just, equitable, and inclusive housing practices as we move forward so that we can create a housing sector that altogether reflects these values. Part of this work will include combating the racially restrictive hosing practices and current lending practices that have reduced housing opportunities for our BIPOC community. It will also include working to expand accessibility to transportation throughout the city. Creating a just, equitable, and inclusive Minneapolis will require intentionally inclusive and equitable development plans.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: Equitable housing in Minneapolis means expanding the choices that residents have in our city. Affordable housing works best when it is integrated into neighborhoods across the city, not amassed all in one area. The only way to start to heal the pain caused by the history of housing discrimination is by giving every residents, especially our historically disenfranchised residents, access to the entire city. As a representative of far South Minneapolis, I represent areas whose houses still have the covenants stating that these properties only be sold to white owners. Just because those covenants are no longer legally binding does not mean the effects of them are not felt by residents across the city today and to get to a more equitable housing market, those neighborhoods need to be just as accessible as any other.

Getting to a just housing market takes real change and investment from a city level. From passing the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance to continuing my work on ultra affordable housing, sustainable building practices, and rent stabilization, I will continue to move our city closer to my vision of equitable housing in Minneapolis.

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

Dillon Gherna: Thank you for allowing me to share some of my vision in housing, housing is a human right and I am committed to making sure that I advance the support for programs that support safe and stable housing for our community.

Emily Koski: I am running to represent my community, Ward 11, on the Minneapolis City Council because our community wants to be seen and heard, and I will be a leader who listens. Building community and creating partnerships starts with progressive leadership that is focused on working with a community. As your City Council Member, I will be your partner at City Hall and will work with you to strategically address housing issues in our community. I will build partnerships, engage in strategic problem solving, and find solutions that will yield real results for our community. I will bring the voices of our community, leadership, housing officials, and housing experts together so that we can work collaboratively to achieve our goals.

Jeremy Schroeder – incumbent: none