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House DFL Announces Legislative Package to Reduce Housing Costs, Create More Homes

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

St. Paul, MN — Today, House DFL and Housing Committee leadership announced a package of legislation aimed at reducing housing costs for Minnesotans with proposals to lower costs for renters, provide pathways to home ownership, build more homes while improving the affordable housing we already have, and provide housing security to more Minnesotans. Legislators are also proposing immediate assistance that would reopen RentHelpMN, providing assistance to renters and landlords who are still struggling amidst the pandemic.

“There are few things more important in life than having a safe place to call home,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-Falcon Heights), chair of the Housing Finance & Policy Committee. “The projected positive budget balance offers a once in a generation opportunity to invest in Minnesotans. A stable place to live means everyone can start off life with an equal chance to thrive. This is the time to be bold and forge a future where all Minnesotans can succeed.”

Lowering costs for renters while providing opportunities for home ownership is a priority of the House DFL, who are putting forward investments to deliver state-based rental assistance to cost-burdened renters, ensuring no one is paying more than 30% of their income in rent. This $400 million investment would provide rental assistance to an estimated 49,275 households.

$100 million is also being proposed to provide pathways to first-time home buyers through down-payment assistance, making the dream of homeownership a reality for an estimated 3,000 households.

“Our ongoing housing crisis means that the cost of rent and homes continue to increase, squeezing family budgets and making it harder to cover the essentials in life,” said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), vice chair of the Housing Finance & Policy Committee. “We have the opportunity this session to make the dream of a home more affordable and attainable for every Minnesotan, but only if we make significant investments across the housing continuum. This housing package rises to this moment with historic investments that will meet Minnesotans where they are at - whether you are struggling with homelessness or trying to buy your first home.” 

The pandemic has resulted in lost income for many renters and landlords. To make these Minnesotans whole, DFLers are utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide $300 million in emergency rental and landlord assistance through June 1, 2022. Legislators are calling for swift passage of these resources so that RentHelpMN can re-open, providing desperately needed resources to Minnesota renters and landlords. 

“Access to safe and secure housing that people can afford is critical for the health and wellbeing of our families and our communities,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “It’s critical that we take strong steps to reduce costs for families, create more housing options, and improve economic security and opportunity across our state. House DFLers are putting forward proposals to ensure all Minnesotans can have a place to call home.”

For many communities, reducing housing costs is not a matter of creating new units of affordable housing, but improving the units that already exist. $250 million in the House DFL’s proposal is dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating 3,000 naturally occurring affordable homes ($150 million) and modernizing and updating 1,000 units of public housing through General Obligation Bonds ($100 million). This course of action would prevent evictions, mass displacements, and improve safety for Minnesotans throughout the state. 

“House Democrats are focused on supporting family budgets by reducing the cost of housing,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We understand that Minnesotans are seeing our economy recover but aren’t sharing in the growth they are helping create. Reducing the cost of major expenses like housing will help families cover the essentials like gas and groceries. Democrats call on Republicans to join us in lowering costs instead of prioritizing tax cuts for big corporations making record profits.” 

The housing package also includes a $600 million proposal to create over 5,500 new units of housing by utilizing Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs), housing-based tax aid, and investing in programs like the Minnesota Challenge Program and the Workforce Home Ownership program.

Lastly, many in Minnesota struggle with housing security to the point of homelessness, which is why the House DFL’s plan includes $75 million in statewide shelter capital to provide more options for safe housing, and an additional $75 million for resources to help strengthen services for unhoused Minnesotans that provide pathways to more stable housing. 

A fact sheet with more information about these housing proposals is available here


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