- Created: Tuesday, 12 January 2021 09:53
- Written by Andy Birkey
This session, MHP will use its resources and network to advocate lawmakers to increase investments in housing stability by adequately funding emergency and ongoing housing assistance programs; investing in programs that preserve existing affordable homes and add new units; and strengthening laws to support renters access affordable housing.
The COVID pandemic has exacerbated many households’ housings cost burden. Families who were already struggling to afford housing have found themselves’ in greater jeopardy of experiencing homelessness. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the impact that interventions like emergency housing assistance have had in keeping people in their homes. MHP fought hard to secure $100 million in COVID Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) funds. While the Federal government just invested $25 billion in rental assistance, we know the Minnesota Legislature has a role to play in helping households that will not qualify under the Federal program.
- Emergency Housing Assistance. MHP is working with State lawmakers to understand gaps in assistance provided by the latest round of Federal relief. We support additional investments to renters and homeowners to pay rents, mortgages, insurance payments, HOA fees, utilities and other housing related costs.
- Eviction Moratorium. MHP believes safe, stable and affordable housing is critical to public health. Therefore, MHP continues to support efforts to ensure every Minnesotan has a home in which they can safely adhere to government restrictions and recommendations. Additionally, MHP recognizes that Minnesotans experiencing job or income loss did so due to no fault of their own. The eviction moratorium, coupled with housing assistance has proven to keep households healthy and support students. In fact, research increasingly shows that areas with moratoriums have lower morbidity and mortality from COVID 19 than areas that do not.
- Bring it Home Campaign. The pandemic highlights the importance of comprehensive and permanent rental assistance program for all income qualifying Minnesotans. MHP supports this bold, visionary campaign.
- Manufactured Home Park Opportunity to Purchase and NOAH Acquisition. MHP supports strategies to help affordable housing providers and residents acquire and preserve their homes. An Opportunity to Purchase law for manufactured home parks will help residents of parks purchase and convert their parks into cooperatively owned entities. Displacement caused by the loss of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing has devastating and long-term consequences for households. Acquisition funds to help purchase, preserve the affordability, and improve the quality of these homes is critical to ending alarming trends in displacement.
Preserving the Homes We Have and Creating New Opportunities
MHP continues to prioritize preservation and production. Annually, Minnesota continues to lose more affordable housing than it creates. Households below 50 percent of area median income are most impacted by displacement. And, the market produces the fewest new units for households at these incomes. Households struggling to find affordable housing often settle for poor quality housing and experience the highest rates of cost burden, overcrowding, evictions, and episodes of homelessness. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color households are disproportionately impacted by the inadequate stock of truly affordable homes.
- Local Housing Trust Funds. MHP continues to advocate for the one-time appropriation of state matching funds to incentivize local communities to establish and dedicate funds into affordable housing trust funds. These powerful local tools were endorsed in the 2018 Governor’s Housing Task Force report and Governor Walz’ FY20-21 budget.
- 4d. MHP believes that by simplifying and reducing the classification rate for affordable housing properties, the State can help housing providers reinvest in existing properties and better leverage private equity to produce more homes or better leverage state resources to create more deeply affordable units. This change will help preserve existing affordable housing stock by lessening the economic pressures that currently drive the conversion of many affordable units into market-rate status.
- Bonding. Bonds are Minnesota’s single greatest tool to create the most deeply affordable units. MHP will continue to work in coalition with Homes for All to secure additional bonding resources.
- Tax Credit Contribution Fund. MHP continues to advocate for a state affordable housing tax credit. The Minnesota Legislature must do more to incentivize the donation of cash, land and property to support preservation and new production. Adding land and property donations to our cash donation credit proposal will help preserve or repurpose distressed assets into affordable homes.
Improving Access and Opportunity
Low-income renters face a variety of challenges to securing safe, decent and affordable housing. Households with non-traditional incomes like Section 8 vouchers or other forms of housing assistance many times struggle to utilize their assistance because some landlords refuse to accept it. Often the denial of housing based on income serves as a pretext for discrimination, disproportionately affecting renters of color, women and persons with disabilities.
- Prohibit Source of Income Discrimination. Minnesota needs to amend its Human Rights Act to clarify that housing discrimination based on a person’s source of income is illegal.
- Eviction Expungement Reform. Reforming Minnesota’s eviction reporting and expungement laws would give tenants opportunities to remedy their situations before an eviction is recorded and more easily secure an expungement, especially in cases of dismal or in cases where an eviction is not a reasonable predictor of future tenant behavior.
Download and view the 2021 Policy Agenda factsheet here.