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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Northfield needs comprehensive housing reform

<ast year did I learn that Northfield is the third least affordable area to live in Minnesota, after the Twin Cities and Rochester.

As a junior here, on an almost exclusively residential campus, I once rarely thought about housing in Northfield, mistakenly assuming that the city was immune to the housing crisis that plagues my hometown in the Bay Area.

I lived on campus; what happened outside the Carleton bubble existed outside my comprehension.

As I have lived here longer, I have seen that this assumption is deeply flawed.

Although not always evident on the surface, Northfield faces a tremendous shortage of both affordable housing and housing in general, compounded by city policies that limit multi-family dwellings to a miniscule proportion of homes.

I have often heard the argument that zoning and building denser, more affordable and quite simply more housing will dramatically change the character of a city.

In my childhood home of San Jose, not-in-my-backyard arguments like this have blocked accessible housing for decades and have made the city the most expensive place to live in the entire country.

Northfield is much smaller than San Jose, but the same processes occur here as well.

As the population of the United States expands and urbanizes, more people will need housing, including in Northfield. This is an inevitable fact.

People of color, Indigenous people, immigrants and low-income people are hit hardest by the crisis; changing these policies will help us all.

We all need safe, affordable, dignified places to live, and the city’s growth will only make housing supply more important.

To make Northfield more affordable and inclusive for everyone, we must provide a greater range of housing.

As I write this letter, the City Council is considering an ordinance that would streamline residents’ ability to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their property.

ADUs will not solve the housing crisis by themselves, but passing this ordinance is an important step toward increasing the affordable housing supply and making Northfield more inclusive for all.

In the short term, I urge you to contact your city councilmembers and offer your support for the ADU ordinance.

In the long term, I encourage us all to reimagine what our city can accomplish by advancing comprehensive housing reform.

With thoughtful policies and widespread community support, we can make this city a safe, welcoming, inclusive place for all its residents.

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