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State Representative Karen Clark

273 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-0294

For more information contact: Joan Nichols 651-29X-XXXX

Posted: 2009-11-09 00:00:00
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Column/LTE

Minnesota in Pursuit of Green, Affordable Housing and Public Health Issues


Recently a Joint Informational Hearing on Federal Housing Policy convened with a robust agenda that included discussion on new initiatives and issues at the federal level, federal programs and Minnesota implementation, tools for assisting those affected by our current housing crisis, and a keynote presentation on the link between green, affordable housing and health.

As the Chair of the Housing Finance and Policy and Public Health Finance Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives, I welcomed the opportunity to hear from fellow advocates and stakeholders working on the forefront of housing and health issues in these very challenging economic times. I want to share some important highlights with the understanding that this Hearing is an important part of an on-going dialogue necessary to realize policy initiatives that will improve affordable housing and public health in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) provided an overview of new initiatives and issues at the federal level that included a discussion on the HUD 2010 budget, an extension of the First Time Home Buyer Credit, the Tax Extender Bill and the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act. Because housing initiatives are evolving so rapidly, with new federal programs responding to our current economic crisis, MHP has introduced a set of web-based tools - Federal Housing Pages (www.mhponline.org/policy/federalpages) to help stakeholders, communities, developers, advocates, and citizens track federal housing programs and resources for Minnesota.

Representatives from Minnesota’s own federal housing leaders (HUD, USDA, MHFA, and OES) spoke about the status of federal programs being implemented in Minnesota. Each organization is pursuing initiatives to provide affordable housing while maximizing federal stimulus and other funds that will serve to stimulate our economy. As current challenges and potential reforms were reviewed it was apparent that Minnesota housing authorities are in the process of figuring out how to best put federal stimulus dollars to work.

The Director of Research at the National Center for Healthy Housing, Dr. David Jacobs, gave a keynote presentation on the relationship between healthy, affordable and green housing in Minnesota. Dr. Jacobs made a compelling argument that investments in affordable green housing could impact public health and housing quality and ultimately lower health care costs. He referenced a current Minnesota case study in Worthington where significant health improvements were documented in residents who lived in recently rehabilitated housing in which green building standards were used. This groundbreaking study and others like it have profound policy implications for lawmakers as we consider the positive impacts that green, affordable housing could have on our public health, energy, and environment.

Over the coming months, I will be talking a lot about housing and I look forward to engaging fellow policymakers and advocates in a housing agenda that delivers what Minnesotans need to ensure affordable and healthy housing becomes a way of living in our state.

I will keep Minnesotans informed about housing issues and policies as they unfold during the 2010 Legislative Session. Please feel free to call or write with any ideas or issues. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-0294, by mail at 471 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 or by e-mail at rep.karen.clark@house.mn.

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