Candidate Questionnaire — Ward 7 — Jane Prince
Ward 7 contains the neighborhoods of Dayton’s Bluff, Mounds Park, Swede Hollow, Battle Creek, Highwood, Conway and Eastview. It is currently represented by Councilmember Jane Prince. There are four candidates running: Jane Prince, Mary Anne Quiroz, Kartumo King, and David Thom. We have not received responses from any of the candidates.
1. How do you plan to increase housing affordability in St. Paul?
The City needs to focus on creating deeply affordable housing, affordable to low-wage workers, at 30 percent area median income (AMI). Building so-called affordable housing at 60 percent AMI is above market rate in the neighborhoods I represent. We should focus our efforts with nonprofit developers, who are mission-driven to create and manage affordable housing. We also need new funding sources, potentially a local option sales tax, and increased support from philanthropy, including corporate foundations.
Increasing political support for the development of deeply affordable housing is essential. In response to housing advocates, I introduced amendments to the 2040 Comprehensive Plan to focus on affordability at 30 percent AMI, and to require that any city-financed project include 20 percent of units affordable at 30 and 50 percent AMI. A majority of councilmembers opposed these proposals.
2. What do you see as the main cause for the shortage of affordable housing in St. Paul?
Saint Paul did not build any units for low-wage workers at 30 percent AMI from 2005 until recently, and did away with the requirement that city-financed projects must include 20 percent affordable at 30 and 50 percent AMI. I attribute this in part to the philanthropic community putting less funding into affordable housing, as McKnight had done in both cities from the mid-80s until the early 2000s. Tools to finance deeply affordable housing are few; the amount of funding Saint Paul receives as 9 percent low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) suballocators allows for only one project to be financed per year.
3. How can the city eliminate homelessness?
We need to start by doing away with unsheltered homelessness. The State of Minnesota needs to implement a “right to shelter” policy and provide adequate funding to the counties to shelter all of those individuals and families who lack any roof over their heads. Eliminating homelessness entirely will require our addressing untreated mental illness and chemical dependency as well.
That said, we need to dramatically increase our supply of housing at all income levels. With an affordable housing shortage, it is a landlords’ market, where rent levels exceed Section 8 eligibility.
In addition, we need to adopt a series of tenant protection ordinances, reducing application fees and security deposits, addressing tenant screening providing a 90-day notice of sale and requiring just-cause evictions.
4. Do you support changing the city’s zoning to allow quadplexes everywhere in the city? If not, please explain why.
I would support adding such density along transit corridors and neighborhood nodes. However, this approach needs further study in neighborhoods like many that I represent, where slumlords have historically subdivided homes to increase profits, resulting in substandard housing and destabilized neighborhoods. Quality design and construction standards are critical.
5. Do you support eliminating minimum parking requirements? If not, please explain why.
I am open to considering reductions in parking requirements. However, in many of the neighborhoods I represent, we have poor and nonexistent transit service. It is critical that we demand better routes and service on Saint Paul’s East Side.
6. Do you support funding the city’s 4(d) affordable housing program? If not, how will you preserve at-risk Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH)?
I am an extremely enthusiastic proponent of the City’s 4(d) program as a very attractive incentive for landlords in my Ward to keep housing affordable. I hosted a “Rethinking Eviction” forum for landlords in my ward earlier this year. It was clear to me that many of these landlords — especially mom-and-pop operations — are committed to keeping their rents affordable and were glad to see the City providing incentives to them. I would like to see us extend this program to landlords of multiple single-family homes, who provide affordable rent in these large family units.