ACTION: Help Us Bring Back SROs to Minneapolis

Take Action: Help us Bring Back SROs to Minneapolis

Single-room occupancy housing (SRO) is a type of home in which each resident has their own room, but might share a kitchen, a bathroom, and other common areas. Think of a college dorm, a retirement home, or renting a spare room to a friend.  Since expensive features can be shared amongst multiple residents, SROs are some of the most affordable kinds of homes. Unfortunately, they’re currently by and large illegal in Minneapolis. 

It wasn’t always so: The Gateway District (razed in the 1950s) provided affordable boarding houses for workers and middle-class retirees. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the city curtailed and ultimately banned new SROs. Homelessness rates soared.

What’s Happening Now

Under the Minneapolis 2040 plan, the City Council committed to “remove barriers and support innovative, energy efficient, and creative housing options, such as…single room occupancy” to meet our huge deficit of affordable homes. 

But a recent ordinance proposed to accomplish this barely makes a start. It would ban SROs in wealthier neighborhoods of single-family homes and only permit SROs that are operated by government or nonprofits.  This would effectively deny these very affordable homes to most of our city.

Our city is at the epicenter of a worldwide reckoning over systemic racism, yet encampments in city parks are a visible reminder of what decades of failed housing policy have produced. Countless others face rising rents and precarity. Minneapolis needs to make good on our commitments under the 2040 plan – and that means living up to its promises.

How to Help

Using the talking points below, send your City Council Member an email or leave a voicemail by Monday, July 12th. 

Talking points:

  • Please amend the SRO ordinance to remove the requirement that they be operated by government and nonprofits.
  • SROs are by far the most affordable type of home; by some estimates 40% cheaper to build than a studio apartment. Even better, Minneapolis already has thousands of untapped SROs in the form of homeowners with spare rooms and extra space.  Legalizing SROs will permit thousands of affordable homes in our city at the stroke of a pen. 
  • SROs let us get more out of our existing single family homes with minimal disruption or change.
  • SROs should not be restricted to nonprofits and governments.  There is demand in the market for a wide range of SROs, providing homes and co-living arrangements to citizens of many classes, education levels, and backgrounds. SROs could include upscale, boutique developments for young professionals and artists, as well as senior citizens who live active lives.
  • Privately owned SROs would allow small-scale, local property owners to convert houses into attractive, affordable homes that could offer competition to large-scale developers.
  • SROs should be permitted citywide, including all residential districts. In keeping with the 2040 plan, we need affordable homes in all neighborhoods of our city. 
  • Some suggested that permitting SROs in R1 and R2 districts violates the spirit of the 2040 plan, which limits those zones to triplexes. An obvious compromise exists: SROs could be limited to nine renters in those areas.
  • SROs should be permitted on all lots, no matter how small.  
  • SROs could be a valuable option for families.  The proposed amendment limits the occupants to 2, but this limit must be lifted to allow families to reside in the same room.

Send your comment on SRO legalization by July 12 to the entire BIHZ committee (contact info below), and copy your city council member. Also consider testifying at the public hearing on July 13 at 1:30 P.M. 

  • To testify: In the online form, select “City Council” for meeting type, “July 13 – Business, Inspections, Housing & Zoning” for council meetings, and “Regulation of rooming units…” for hearing agenda item.

*****Also, mark your calendar for our July member social, Thursday July 15 at 5:30 at the Downtown Commons. This is a big one — we’ll be discussing ideas and setting our advocacy priorities for the next year or so. Please bring your ideas and opinions!*** 

The Business, Inspections, Housing and Zoning City Council Committee:

  • Kevin Reich (612) 673-220
  • Cam Gordon (612) 673-2202
  • Jeremiah Ellison 612-673-2205
  • Jamal Osman 612-673-2206
  • Lisa Goodman 612-673-2207
  • Jeremy Schroeder 612-673-2211

All City Council Members – Find your city council member here:

  • Kevin Reich (Northeast, Ward 1) (612) 673-220
  • Cam Gordon (Ward 2, Author of Policy change) (612) 673-2202
  • Steve Fletcher (Downtown, Ward 3) 612-673-2203
  • Phillipe Cunningham (North, Ward 4) (612) 673-2204
  • Jeremiah Ellison (North, west of downtown, Ward 5) 612-673-2205
  • Jamal Osman (South of Downtown, Ward 6) 612-673-2206
  • Lisa Goodman (West-Mid, Ward 7) 612-673-2207
  • Andrea Jenkins (Along 35W, Ward 8) 612-673-2208
  • Alondra Cano (Central, Ward 9) 612-673-2209
  • Lisa Bender (Lakes Area,Ward 10) 612-673-2210
  • Jeremy Schroeder (South,Ward 11) 612-673-2211
  • Andrew Johnson (Minnehaha Falls area,Ward 12) 612-673-2212
  • Linea Palmisano (Southwest, Ward 13) 612-673-2213