|I’ve also been staying active in the community and working on a number of legislative issues, one of them being affordable housing. Stable housing is interconnected with nearly all areas of life - it is crucial for a person’s ability to hold a job, seek an education, preserve their health and maintain relationships. Maintaining housing affordability is also critical to the economic competitiveness of our region.
This year, for the first time in many years, the House has a committee dedicated to housing. Much of our work this year focused on protecting tenants’ rights and expanding access to affordable and safe housing. Our final housing bill delivers $15 million in housing investments over the next two years. While this bill is a good start, we have a long way to go to ensure affordable housing for all in Minnesota.
Housing experts agree that a big part of the problem is that we’re just not building housing units as fast as we’re forming new households, and that’s driving up prices and rents. Behind the scenes, I have been working to broker an agreement between the home builders and the cities on ways to ensure new development pays its way, while incentivizing cities to open more land up for housing development of all kinds. Metro Cities is the association of the municipalities in the Twin Cities region. This week I participated in their policy committee deliberations concerning zoning and housing, and next week I will do the same with the League of Minnesota Cities policy committee. I’ve also been working with the Minnesota Housing Partnership and the homebuilders to develop future legislation that will make it easier to build more housing in addition to contributing to the work of the new Legislative Commission on Housing Affordability that’s just been formed.
I was recently presented with a “Housing Leadership Award” by Housing First, an advocacy group dedicated to finding policy solutions to facilitate the construction of new housing of all kinds. In a recent interview with them, I discussed the current financial and regulatory obstacles to the creation of new housing, which you can read on their online blog here.