HUD Secretary Ben Carson backs Minneapolis 2040 housing plan

He was in Minneapolis to talk up the Trump administration's housing policies.
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Minneapolis City Council's plans to reduce the number of single-family homes in an attempt to boost equitable access to housing has been met with praise by Dr. Ben Carson.

Carson, President Trump's Housing and Urban Development Secretary, was in Minneapolis on Tuesday to extol the virtues of his administration's housing policies, which have come in for criticism from both sides of the aisle.

But it was his comments about the Minneapolis 2040 strategic plan that were of more interest locally, with Carson revealing himself a fan of the city's proposal.

The controversial plan would see all zoning restrictions loosened on all residential lots in the city, allowing for multi-family units to be built on plots currently limited to single-family homes.

Per the Star Tribune, Carson says that more education is needed to explain why reducing single-family zoning in favor of higher-density development is required to fight off "NIMBYism."

He cited cities like Los Angeles where there is a housing crisis, yet 80 percent of the land is zoned for single-family housing, noting. "The correlation seems very strong," he said. "The more zoning restrictions and regulations, the higher the prices and the more homeless people."

Minneapolis' 2040 plan, which will have a final vote at the city council later this year, has been attracting wider interest at the national level, with the New York Times including it in this Tuesday piece about cities questioning the "American ideal" of a yard on every lot.

It described the step Minneapolis has taken "remarkable" by allowing the up-zoning of every lot in the city, rather than picking only certain neighborhoods.

"If we were going to pick and choose, the fight I think would have been even bloodier,” Heather Worthington, the City of Minneapolis director of long-range planning, told the NYT.

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The newspaper notes that if just 5 percent of the largest single-family lots (5,000 sq. ft. and above) in the city converted to triplexes, it would create 6,200 new housing units.

The plan has nonetheless occasioned a fair amount of pushback particularly in the wealthier areas of southwest Minneapolis.

Opponents have raised the specter of homes being overshadowed by taller multi-family units, and argue it would actually make the city more unaffordable as it wouldn't make fiscal sense for private developers to build multi-family units for anyone other than the middle and upper classes

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