In spite of the dreary weather outside, there has been some very encouraging news from the state capitol on bonding for affordable housing. Investments in bonding through Minnesota Housing directly support some of Minnesota's lowest income residents, and indirectly enable other housing needs to be met. The bonding resources primarily:
- produce housing for formerly homeless individuals and families
- stabilize housing for Minnesotans at or just above the poverty level. People who benefit are those who qualify for public housing or for housing subsidized through the Section 8 program.
In addition, bonding resources free up Minnesota Housing to direct some of its other, more flexible funds to cover unmet community housing needs not supported through bonding, such as workforce housing.
Here's a recap of what's been happening with bonding at the Capitol:
- In the House: The omnibus bonding bill (Rep. Hausman – H.F. 270) passed out of the Capital Investment committee last Thursday, with $35 million for housing infrastructure bonds and $15 for public housing rehabilitation for a total of $50 million. It will be heard in Ways & Means on Tuesday (4/16).
- Last week the Governor released his bonding recommendations, including $40 million for housing. $30 million is proposed for housing infrastructure bonds and $10 is for public housing rehabilitation.
- In the Senate, $35 million for housing infrastructure bonds and $15 million for public housing rehabilitation (Sparks – S.F. 960) has been laid over for possible inclusion in the Senate omnibus bonding bill. For more details on this legislation, click on this fact sheet.
The Homes for All coalition legislative agenda includes $50 million in bonding for housing, which includes $35 million for housing infrastructure bonds and $15 million for public housing rehab.
Despite the positive indications from both chambers of the legislature and the governor, it's important to remember that a bipartisan effort is required, since a 60% majority is needed to pass any bonding bill. In the House, this amounts to 81 votes. With this challenge in mind, it's worth reaching out to your legislators to remind them of the importance of bonding for housing. (To find your legislator, go to: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/)
With interest rates at historic lows, this year is a good one to bond for housing. Bonding for housing would create jobs too, since these dollars would result in significant construction employment.
Moreover, Minnesota's affordable housing needs are critical. Homelessness was 6% higher in 2012, compared to the Great Recession levels of 2009. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans are paying more than half of their income for housing. Housing bonds will help create and preserve much needed affordable housing across the state.