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Differences in omnibus housing bills highlighted in first conference committee meeting

The House version of the omnibus housing bill would increase protections for renters and bolster funding for state housing programs.

Meanwhile, the Senate's version would end the COVID-19-related eviction moratorium and enact policies aimed at creating more affordable homeownership opportunities.

Those are among the key differences conferees of HF1077*/SF969, sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), heard Monday.

The House bill, passed 69-62 on April 15, would increase the Housing Finance Agency's General Fund allocation next biennium by 20.7%, from $120.6 million this biennium to $145.6 million.

That would include increased funding for programs aimed at preventing homelessness, stabilizing low-income renters, developing workforce housing and educating homebuyers. It would also include funding for new programs, such as the preservation of affordable, unsubsidized housing, also called naturally occurring affordable housing, and a lead-safe grant program.

The Senate bill, passed 39-27 on April 20, would decrease the agency's biennium-over-biennium allocation by 4.1%, down to $115.6 million.

That would include a $6 million funding decrease for the Housing Challenge Program, which assists in the development of housing affordable to local workforces. The House has proposed a $2 million increase to the program, and Gov. Tim Walz has proposed no change.

[MORE: View a side-by-side comparison of the bills]

On the policy front, notable provisions in the House bill would change eviction-expungement rules, create a new pre-eviction filing requirement, provide renter protections and give mobile home park residents new opportunities to purchase their land.

The Senate bill would require, in some circumstances, the Housing Finance Agency to use federal COVID-19 relief funds for housing and homelessness support before turning to state-appropriated money.

It would also end the eviction moratorium, ban local rent-control policies and prevent cities from requiring planned unit developments if a residential development already complies with existing zoning requirements.

A House bill to end the eviction moratorium, HF12, passed separately last week and awaits Senate action.

[MORE: View a spreadsheet outlining funding differences in the bills]

Feedback

In a letter, Jennifer Ho, commissioner of the Housing Finance Agency, applauded the House bill for increasing funding for agency programs and including reforms around evictions expungement and notice requirements. Walz supports these proposals, she said.

In response to the Senate bill, she said more resources are needed for housing, adding that proposed increases for two programs are funded through budget reductions or reallocations she does not support.

Affordable housing advocates praise the House bill for its renter-protection provisions, programmatic funding increases and support for local housing trust funds. But landlords oppose the bill's eviction provisions, and realtors and those in the mobile home park industry oppose the opportunity-to-purchase provisions.

Meanwhile, landlords praise the Senate bill for rent-control preemption, and realtors support the language around PUDs. Organizations representing cities are opposed to such provisions.

The committee does not plan to meet on Tuesday.


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