From $60 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds, to a 12 percent increase in Minnesota Housing’s budget in 2020, the end of the 2019 legislative session saw several critical wins for affordable housing. While there’s still plenty of work to do, several legislators stood out this session as housing champions, demonstrating a deep resolve to make a difference for Minnesotans. MHP is proud to recognize these champions with the 2019 Legislative Leader Award.
The following Legislative Leaders advanced MHP’s policy initiatives and drew attention to affordable housing as an issue of public importance, delivering persuasive arguments and taking action for impactful policies and investments.
MHP 2019 Legislative Leaders
Senator Nick Frentz (DFL-19, Mankato)
Senator Frentz was one of two senators who participated in Governor Dayton’s Task Force on Housing in 2018. During the 2019 session, he demonstrated a clear drive to transform that experience into action, working persistently to ensure his caucus, the Governor, and legislative leadership prioritized affordable housing solutions. A co-author of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit bill, Senator Frentz provided key insight on strategy, introducing MHP to businesses in Mankato and lobbying his colleagues to support housing investments through the Tax Credit and Homes for All agenda. He kept the promise he made at the end of last session – to do everything he could to pass this bill and create more affordable homes for Minnesotans.
Representative Bob Gunther (R-23A, Fairmont)
Representative Gunther has demonstrated long-term dedication to ensuring Minnesotans have an affordable place to call home. As chief author of the Challenge Fund, his work has helped create thousands of affordable homes across the state, Representative Gunther brings experience and passion to the need for affordable homes. This session, Representative Gunther proposed increased investments to bolster this successful program, continuing his track record as an affordable housing champion. He also lobbied his colleagues in the Senate to reverse proposed cuts to the Challenge Fund, working to bridge the political divide between the House and Senate and make positive change for Minnesotans. The result: increased investment for the Challenge Fund and affordable homes in Minnesota.
Representative Michael Howard (DFL-50A, Richfield)
A relentless advocate for affordable housing, Representative Howard was a true partner during the 2019 session, championing MHP and Homes for All initiatives from day one. As chief author of the Local Housing Trust Fund State Match and co-author of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit, Representative Howard provided critical insight and advice, leveraging his communications skills to create and deliver compelling messages to build broad, bipartisan support for action on affordable housing. Time and time again, he demonstrated a deep conviction to ensure stable housing for low-income Minnesotans, successfully passing investments in the Homework Starts With Home program and a measure to protect and empower residents of manufactured home parks at risk of displacement.
Senator Mark Johnson (R-01, Thief River Falls)
For yet another legislative session, Senator Johnson went above and beyond to bring attention to Minnesota’s growing need for affordable homes. On multiple occasions, Senator Johnson convened conversations to call for housing solutions – hosting MHP in his hometown of Thief River Falls and initiating meetings with the Governor’s office. He helped MHP secure key business and city endorsements for the Affordable Housing Tax Credit, which he co-authored. Senator Johnson even met with a tax credit lawyer to increase his understanding of affordable housing finance. Senator Johnson’s advocacy to Senate leadership for affordable homes, and his personal testimony to these needs in Greater Minnesota, helped ensure the Tax Credit’s momentum and inclusion in Senate omnibus tax bill.
Senator Carla Nelson (R-26, Rochester)
Senator Nelson is a stalwart champion for investments in affordable homes, using her platform to highlight the connections between stable homes, children succeeding in school, and sustaining a growing economy. This session, Senator Nelson called for action on housing at multiple press conferences and a rally, building momentum for the Homes for All agenda and the Affordable Housing Tax Credit, which Senator Nelson chief authored. Despite her demanding schedule as a committee chair, Senator Nelson ensured sustained attention and momentum around the Tax Credit. She recruited new endorsers and ensured the measure was – once again – included in the Senate’s omnibus tax bill.
Representative Brad Tabke (DFL-55A, Shakopee)
Throughout session, Representative Tabke was a clear voice calling for solutions on housing. He chief authored the Affordable Housing Tax Credit bill in the House, helping grow support for this bi-partisan solution to thirty co-authors! Representative Tabke worked tirelessly throughout session to lobby the Chair of the Tax Committee, legislative leadership, and fellow suburban lawmakers in his caucus to support the Tax Credit and investments in affordable housing. By raising the public profile of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit through press conferences and more, Representative Tabke provided significant momentum to this innovative solution championed by Homes for All and MHP.