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After lengthy debate, omnibus housing bill is passed

House Photography file photo

The omnibus housing finance and policy bill, characterized by DFLers as helping the neediest Minnesotans and by Republicans as not doing anything to address the state's housing shortage, has been passed by the House.

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), HF1077, was passed on a 69-62 vote Thursday evening after several hours of debate. It now moves to the Senate where Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) is the sponsor.

"The programs and policies contained in this bill make critical investments to help close the homeownership gap, to prevent displacement, to ensure evictions don't unnecessarily block families from affordable housing … and to make sure homes are safe," Hausman said.

The $145.6 million bill would dedicate millions of dollars to affordable housing, including $6.5 million for the preservation and rehabilitation of unsubsidized, inexpensive multiunit rental housing, also known as naturally occurring affordable housing.

It would also allocate $3 million in grants for local housing trust funds, out of which local governments award grants for housing development, rental assistance and more. In addition, it would provide a $1.5 million increase for a program that provides temporary housing assistance to low-income Minnesotans with mental illnesses.

Two proposed amendments to the bill were not adopted.

The A8 amendment, sponsored by Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton), which dealt with security deposits, was defeated 69-62.

The A7 amendment, sponsored by Rep. Tama Theis (R-St. Cloud), would have voided the COVID-19-related eviction moratorium ordered by Gov. Tim Walz. It was ruled out of order.

Republicans said the bill does not address the issues behind the state's housing crisis, alleging DFLers are ignoring what they characterize as burdensome regulations, rules and fees that have made housing costs prohibitive.

"We need to create more housing. Period," Theis said.

DFLers said the bill more fairly distributes the power in landlord-tenant relationships, provides valuable funding for homeownership, rental assistance and local development programs and would help preserve existing affordable housing.

Some of the discussion Thursday centered on provisions that would make it harder for landlords to access a renter's past eviction records and change the process by which evictions are filed. That includes a potential requirement that landlords give notice and wait 14 days before filing evictions for rent nonpayment.

Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Mpls) said evictions can occur within 10 days of a landlord filing an action. She said the bill would allow tenants and landlords to come to meaningful solutions and not have to go to court as often.

But Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) said the mandatory waiting period would hurt housing providers, who have their own mortgages to pay, and that additional regulations could cause landlords to give up the business.

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