Minnesota Housing Partnership Candidate Questionnaire (supported by Homes for All)
Pat Medure (DFL)
District Issues: How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
All Minnesota citizens need a safe, decent place to call home. Home is where we start from. To accomplish this goal, we need a statewide housing policy that is accompanied by adequate funding to support all citizens, but especially those most in need. In my district, we face many of the same issues as other out stat areas: rents rising faster than income, our housing stock is aging, our population is aging, homelessness is growing and housing ownership is more difficult for working families. People are made to choose between food, medical care and housing. Safe, decent housing improves life in so many different fronts. Stable housing impacts neighborhoods and communities. Children do better in school, families are healthier and businesses and the nonprofit world grow where we have homes for everyone.
Availability of Affordable Housing: More than 25% of households in Minnesota pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing, meaning they must sacrifice in other areas like food and medicine to make ends meet. What steps will you take to encourage the production of more affordable homes?
Increasing affordable housing options requires a permanent partnership of federal, state and local government funding streams. it requires ordinances and community engagement that encourage rather than discourage new affordable housing projects. We also need to support new builders entering the affordable housing market. We need to support appropriate recommendations from the newly issued Governor's Task Force on Housing.
Workers: A full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment in any county in Minnesota — and many of the fastest growing jobs are in low-wage industries. What investments or policy would you champion to address the growing gap between what workers can afford and housing costs?
I would encourage continuing research on innovative and perhaps smaller, less costly new housing efforts in Minnesota. I would also study employer supported housing alternatives where appropriate. Ordinance policy should encourage new low cost beginner housing projects rather than build a roadblock to their completion.
Homelessness: A lack of affordable housing options is one of the top reasons for homelessness, for individuals or families. What will you do to end homelessness in Minnesota?
I support the work of local and state efforts to reduce homelessness in Minnesota. My work on the Grace House board of directors in my community has provided me with a first hand appreciation for the needs of people that come to the shelters as well as providers and volunteers who have generously given their time and talents to support people in this most difficult time. We know that homelessness is only the end result of lack of affordable housing units as well as our difficulty in improving services to people who have mental and chemical health needs. We also know that when we have focused attention and resources on the problem we can make a difference. The issue of veterans homelessness is an example of this action at the federal and state levels. Children who are homeless and seniors require the same focus today. Any one of us are one accident, one illness from the people we serve in our homeless shelters today. I also applaud the work of the state agencies on ending homelessness and the partnership of all state departments to focus on this issue. This work among several state agencies has made a positive policy difference. However, much more still must be done on this issue, especially in working with our children graduating out of the foster care system and our seniors who are in peril of homelessness.
Seniors and children: More than half of senior renters and more than 1 in 4 senior homeowners pay more than they can afford for housing. Meanwhile, children without stable, affordable housing have lower educational and health outcomes. What will you do to ensure housing policy and resources support Minnesota's seniors and students?
As a school board member in m district, I understand the negative impact of the lack of housing on our children. Without stable housing, children are negatively impacted in our schools. We know the statistics about the loss of a school year for every housing move and the lower graduation rates which in turn lead to lower wages and opportunities throughout life. In my area fo the state, our senior population is growing faster than the state average and housing options that meet senior needs are limited. I would support more flexible housing options that are affordable for seniors--one level apartments and assisted living spaces close to health care and other needs of seniors., I would support early childhood programs that allow more parents to enter or stay incur workforce or go back to school to improve their skills and futures. I also support after school programs offered by nonprofit agencies that encourage parents to increase their wages and afford more permanent housing.
Racial Disparities: Minnesota's racial disparities in housing are among the worst in the nation, for renters and homeowners. For instance, 22 percent of Black households are homeowners, compared to 76 percent of white households. How will you reduce the racial homeownership gap and other disparities in housing for households of color?
Many of our state housing agencies have developed programs or support funding for services for services that focus on new home ownership. Bringing education and support to new families of color as well as helping families bridge the gap from renter to homeowner are promising. I also think we need to listen to families of color about their housing preferences and needs. We live in a state where not all housing fits the cultural needs of all people. WE need to listen and begin to adapt houses so that homeownership is achievable for a greater share of our citizens.
Rental Stability: Rental assistance is proven to reduce homelessness, housing instability, and overcrowding, but 75% of residents who qualify for rental assistance do not receive this limited resource. What will you do to expand access to housing assistance to every household that needs it.
My colleagues who work in affordable housing share information about HUD cuts for administering programs, long wait lists to secure vouchers and other roadblocks that seem to grow each year. Local communities need to consider housing as a priority along with economic development, health care, public safety, education, and other services. Local levies as well as partnerships to cut duplication can be studied across the state. Public education through local and state agencies and work with the media can all bring this issue forward.
Funding: We cannot meet our growing, statewide housing needs without significant additional resources. Will you support a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing? Why or why not?
We need to support safe, decent affordable housing in Minnesota. We know housing impacts community prosperity, health of our citizens, education of adults and children, job creation, human rights of all citizens and our future as a state. For all these reasons, we need to develop and fund housing policy through a dedicated source of funding much the same as we have done for education and other critical needs of our progressive state.