ST. PAUL — A coalition of neighborhood and housing advocacy groups are collecting signatures to get a St. Paul city charter amendment on the November ballot. Their goal? Rent control.

The HENS coalition — short for Housing Equity Now St. Paul — needs at least 5,000 signatures by July 1 in order to put a “rent stabilization” ballot question to voters. Their goal is to cap annual rent increases at 3 percent.

If approved, landlords, on an individual basis, would be able to request exceptions based on the right to a reasonable return on investment considering seven factors, such as major property tax hikes or significant building improvements.

“By failing to treat housing as a right, we perpetuate the accumulation and extraction of wealth from low-wealth communities of color,” reads a statement on the website of the Alliance, a Minneapolis-based advocacy group.

Critics have expressed concern that the end effect would simply decrease housing supply by dis-incentivizing private production. In other words, no one builds more housing when they can’t make money off of it.

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Additional members of the HENS coalition include the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, Housing Justice Center, Jewish Community Action, Southeast Community Organization, West Side Community Organization, HomeLine, TakeAction Minnesota, MICAH and the Minnesota Youth Collective.