Where do people want to live? The short answer: Minneapolis. Millennials don’t want to spend their lives inside cars, and older residents don’t want to be dependent on driving for simple tasks like getting groceries or picking up a few things at Target. People increasingly want to live near the amenities of a city as opposed to those of the suburbs.
The population of our city is growing and will continue to grow. But where do people want to live in Minneapolis? It’s an important question to ask as Minneapolis gets ready to finalize its Comprehensive Plan. Knowing which neighborhoods people want to live in helps us plan for new housing as people continue to move to Minneapolis.
People want to live in our “best” neighborhoods, but that means different things to different people. People are willing to spend more money on housing (provided they have the money and the housing is available) to be close to convenience like grocery stores, good schools, nearby parks and lakes, etc. One simple metric that demonstrates the desirability of an area is housing cost.
Thanks to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, we have access to home sale prices by neighborhood. The two most popular areas to live? Southwest Minneapolis and Calhoun-Isles (I sent this group a note about removing “Calhoun” from the name):
So what drives the demand in these high-priced neighborhoods? There are many factors and everyone weighs them differently. For example, we all want a safe place to live, but maybe access to high-quality schools is more important for families with young children. Likewise, some people would prefer to get to work via transit (or biking or walking), and some need a car to get to their job.
On the topic of safety, Minneapolis Police posts crime data online. The following is violent crime data from 9/15/18 to 10/15/18 (blue dots are robberies, red dots are aggravated assaults):
Using this map, it’s fairly easy to conclude where safe places are to live. Comparing this to home prices tells us that people living in the Calhoun-Isles and Southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods are subject to less crime (and are willing to pay a premium for this). Building more housing in these areas means more people can live in safe neighborhoods.
For parents and those thinking about starting a family, access to high-quality schools is a primary concern (and a key reason many move to the suburbs, but that’s another post). Where are the best schools? Southwest Minneapolis has most of them:
If you want to live near a good school, Southwest Minneapolis is your best option. More housing in South and Southwest Minneapolis means more families have access to high-quality education.
Many neighborhoods in Minneapolis are gentrifying rapidly. In areas like Whittier and Uptown, this means both new (expensive!) construction and renovations of existing housing. A shortage of housing in Minneapolis leads to increased housing costs and people being priced out of the neighborhoods they call home.
How do we prevent unnecessary housing pressure and displacement in neighborhoods on the edge of gentrification? Legalizing new multi-family housing in areas that cannot be gentrified, such as Southwest Minneapolis and the area near Lake of the Isles, reduces pressure to build elsewhere. Every new home we do not allow there will be built elsewhere, likely in a hip “up-and-coming” neighborhood.
Of course, new multi-family housing in expensive neighborhoods is consistently opposed by vocal factions of existing residents. For example, new housing at 43rd and Upton in Linden Hills was successfully held up by local residents for nearly a decade, resulting in fewer homes and retail spaces (it’s a commercial corridor and recently built 29 homes on one corner; a different proposed project had 60 homes and six street-facing commercial spaces, but was fought by concerned neighbors).
Though some residents work hard to oppose new housing, creating a variety of new housing types can benefit existing neighborhood residents as well. Not everyone can maintain a single-family home for their entire life. There are gutters to be cleaned, lawns to be mowed, and home repairs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Multi-family housing can provide housing for residents who want to stay in the neighborhood but not deal with the physical and financial challenges that come with single-family homes.
Finally, some testimony at the October 2018 Minneapolis Planning Commission hearing on the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan lamented that those who oppose multi-family housing are viewed as racist. Opposing new multi-family rental housing means keeping certain people out of the community. It means upholding the exclusionary zoning that’s a pillar of systemic racism in housing policy across the country:
If the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan is to succeed in stopping runaway housing costs and creating housing opportunity across the city, dismantling exclusionary single-family zoning in Southwest Minneapolis must be part of the plan.