Nov 12, 2019

Board Member Spotlight: Council Member Cam Gordon

Tell us about your background and why you care about expanding housing opportunities.

After a 20-year career in early childhood and Montessori education that included running small music education and child care business, I successfully ran for elective office in 2005.  I have served on the Minneapolis City Council since 2006, and since 2018 I have served as chair of the Council’s Housing Policy and Development Committee. Throughout my life and now as an elected office holder, I have advocated for social and economic justice. I view expanding housing opportunities as a significant justice issue, and one that the City must address.

Why were you interested in serving on the Family Housing Fund board?

I view the Family Housing Fund as an important partner to the City, and the communities we serve, to expand housing opportunities.

What housing aspirations do you have for the region?

I have many, almost too many to share. I aspire to:

  • Prevent involuntary displacement of low-income people and people of color.
  • Reduce and eliminate disparities between whites and people of color in housing success, including in evictions, homeownership, and more.
  • Protect, invest in, and build more public housing and housing for those who have the lowest incomes.
  • Build enough housing in enough places to meet the demand for housing. Improve energy efficiency in new and existing housing to decrease housing costs and fight climate change.
  • Increase ownership opportunities through cooperatives and other kinds of innovative ownership models.
  • Prevent overly steep rent increases.
  • Decrease and ultimately eliminate homelessness, in part through new housing types like intentional community cluster developments, single-room occupancy arrangements, and rooming houses.
  • And more!

What is one area where you think people generally fail to think big enough – and what is your vision for change?

I think that we have focused very much in the past on subsidizing affordable housing: new construction, rehab, and now preservation. But I think we need to broaden our thinking and be open to making systemic changes to the housing market. Some of those interventions that the Council is currently considering (or has already passed) involve new regulation. For example: protecting renters from discriminatory practices like automatic screening for old criminal violations, credit history, and unreasonable security deposits; requiring the inclusion of new affordable units to be built as part of new market rate development; requiring property owners to sell buildings to the tenants who call those buildings home if they can meet the asking price; and putting an upper limit on the amount of rent increases annually. But some of those interventions move in the direction of greater flexibility, like allowing Accessory Dwelling Units on all parcels, allowing collections of tiny homes, and allowing more units to be built as guided by the 2040 Plan.

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