St. Paul, MN - Today, DFL Legislators were joined by local officials and housing advocates to emphasize the dire need for a suitable off-ramp for the current eviction moratorium. As budget negotiations continue, DFL legislators are proposing an orderly transition away from the eviction moratorium that would prevent a wave of evictions while ensuring landlords are made whole for rent that is owed to them.
“Governor Walz’s eviction moratorium has saved lives by reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the most vulnerable Minnesotans from the threat of losing their homes, and we cannot afford to replace this pandemic with an untenable wave of evictions,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL - Saint Paul), chair of the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee. “The DFL is standing with both renters and landlords to ensure they have the opportunity to take advantage of federal assistance, and it’s our responsibility to provide that pathway without putting their financial or physical health in jeopardy.”
Policy makers and advocates emphasized the need for a roadmap to transition off the current residential eviction moratorium which would ensure renters have enough time to access federal funding for rental assistance when the COVID-19 related peacetime emergency ends and provide clarity to the process. Renters and landlords can access rental assistance at renthelpmn.org.
“If we don’t have a plan in place when the peacetime emergency ends, many of our neighbors could be evicted, overwhelming the court system. We want tenants and landlords to work together, fill out the necessary paperwork, and get the federal COVID rental assistance," said Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL - Minneapolis), the ranking minority member on the Senate Housing Finance and Policy Committee. "We certainly do not want anyone to be evicted after the struggles endured by this pandemic. We would like Minnesotans to get the assistance they need to be able to stay in their homes.”
A legislative solution to the eviction moratorium would allow Governor Walz’s executive order to be lifted and replaced with an orderly conclusion to the eviction moratorium over several months. This would provide time for renters to apply for rental assistance and for landlords to collect on past due rent.
“As a landlord, we realize we need to have more tools in our toolbox than eviction to deal with problem tenants. Eviction should only be seen as the last option,” said Marque Jensen, a landlord and housing advocate with Urban Homeworks. “Landlords should invest their time and energy in helping their tenants receive available rent support, rather than using more energy in filing evictions. There is no reason Minnesota should allow evictions for non-payment of rent while there are still emergency rent funds available to landlords and tenants. We need to not only think of the profit in our pockets but also be aware of the needs of the people in our properties.”
During the press conference, legislators emphasized their desire for a legislative compromise, noting they have agreed to many elements of the Senate Republican eviction moratorium proposal. However, Senate Republicans have insisted on unrelated and unworkable housing priorities as a condition for support for an eviction moratorium. State Representative Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield) urged the Senate to drop their “poison pills” and join Democrats at the negotiation table.
“We are fighting for a win-win solution that better ensures Minnesotans have a safe and secure roof over their heads and that landlords are made whole. Currently, the only roadblock to this solution are Republican legislators who would rather shirk this responsibility and pass the buck to our courts,” said Rep. Howard, vice chair of the House Housing Committee and co-author of the legislation. “Evictions are detrimental to Minnesota families, but thanks to President Biden and the Democrats in Congress, rental assistance is available - we need only to step up to the plate and ensure Minnesotans have the opportunity to take advantage of these resources.”
Others present for today’s event included Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL - Minneapolis), Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse, Eric Hauge from HOME Line Minnesota, and Malyun Yahye with Hope Community. For those who have experienced hardship due to the pandemic and need assistance to pay rent or utility bills, they may be eligible for COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance. More information can be found at renthelpmn.org.