Adobe Stock

Voters across the nation approved several measures aimed at helping the affordability crisis in early November.

In Minnesota, two ballot issues focused on keeping rental housing affordable and preventing excessive increases in rents. In St. Paul, a majority, 52.89%, approved stringent rent control—capping annual rent increases at 3%, including for new construction and vacant apartments. Voters in Minneapolis gave City Council the approval to craft rent control policies. This passed with 53.2% of the vote.

Opponents have argued that rent control is not the way to help renters and will most likely force developers to move outside of the city limits. According to the Star Tribune, some developers are already putting projects on hold and reevaluating their plans.

“Although well-meaning, rent control measures do nothing to provide real relief for those they intend to help. The passage of rent control measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul are a true setback for those committed to finding effective solutions to address the cost of housing,” stated the National Multifamily Housing Council. “Rather than improving the availability of affordable housing, rent control laws exacerbate shortages, cause existing buildings to deteriorate, and disproportionately benefit higher-income households. These measures could result in even further instability for Minnesota’s renters and the rental housing market, at large.”

In the West, voters weighed in on the impact that short-term rentals are having on their communities—primarily making housing less affordable for local workers as well as decreasing the available supply of rentals.

In Lincoln County on the Oregon coast, residents voted to phase out vacation rentals in unincorporated residential areas and immediately halt the issuance of new licenses. The measure doesn’t affect short-term vacation rental rules within the boundaries of the county’s incorporated cities, which are popular destinations for vacationers. This hotly contested issue brought out one of the highest turnout rates in the state for an off-year election and passed with 58% of the vote, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

This also was a hot ballot measure for Colorado mountain and resort towns seeking solutions for the lack of affordable housing. According to advocates, many local workers are being priced out of these communities with housing costs escalating. Voters came out in support of additional taxes on short-term rentals.

In Telluride, 65.1% of voters approved a lodging tax to help manage tourism’s impact on the community, including the acquisition of property for and new construction of affordable or employee housing, as well as other infrastructure improvements. With nearly 55% of the vote, residents approved a measure that includes a cap on the number of short-term rental licenses that have been issued as of Nov. 2, 2021, and aims to generate $200,000 annually through a 100% increase on short-term rental license fees. However, a measure to cap the number of short-term rental licenses available for non-primary residences to 400 did not pass.

With nearly 70% of the vote, residents of Leadville approved a 3% lodging tax for those staying at short-term rental units to increase funding for affordable and community housing programs.

In Vail, with nearly 54% of the vote, residents approved a .5% sales tax increase that will help fund housing initiatives and developments. Groceries are exempt from the increase to lessen the burden on the community’s households.

In Crested Butte, three-quarters of the voters approved $8.985 million in debt authority for housing, which will be paid for with an increase of an excise tax on vacation rentals.

In addition, voters in Ouray and Avon approved excise taxes on short-term rentals that will fund housing and other infrastructure programs.