Minnesota Housing Partnership Candidate Questionnaire (supported by Homes for All)
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Steve Elkins
Legislative District: 49B
District Issues: How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
There is a broad array of housing types in my district, but there is an insufficient supply of single family starter homes, workforce housing of all types and, in the near future, the supply of senior housing will be insufficient, as well.
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?
We must increase the supply of land available to build housing of all types. Where cities have guided land to be made available for the construction of multi-family housing, they must be compelled to follow up by zoning it for multi-family housing within 9 months, as is already required by state law. This requirement must be clarified and strengthened in state statutes, reducing the "entitlement risks" for building new multi-family housing. Large minimum lot sizes for single family home in comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances must be prohibited in almost all cases. Municipal ordinances requiring expensive exterior finishes and large garage sizes must be prohibited.
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?
The State's minimum wage must be gradually increased to enable minimum wage workers to afford decent housing. We must stop the erosion of collective bargaining rights of employees.
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?
We must increase the capacity of homeless shelters and implement programs to make the homeless employable so that they earn enough money to pay for decent shelter for themselves.
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 "baby boomers" age towards the age of 80, they are increasingly at risk of being physically and mentally unable to "age in place" in their existing single family homes. The leading edge of baby boomers is about to reach that age threshold, at which time the demand for senior housing and assisted living facilities will soar. We need to ensure that our land use policies are flexible enough to allow the housing industry to meet that demand.
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?
Cities are taking the lead in promoting fair housing policies and the State needs to support these municipal initiatives.
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?
I think that we need to consider supplementing Federal Housing Choice vouchers with State funds to be able to satisfy the need for this kind of housing assistance.
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?
Yes, however, I recognize that subsidizing the cost of building affordable housing will never be the whole solution (or event the predominate solution). Ultimately, we have to find ways to reduce the cost of producing new housing of all types.