Minnesota Housing Partnership Candidate Questionnaire (supported by Homes for All)
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Alex Hering
Legislative District: 9A
District Issues: How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
There is a lack of affordable housing, in fact there is a lack of housing that is energy efficient, maintained and desirable to move into.
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 livable wages and access to affordable healthcare will help with the gap to make ends meet. Investment in rehabbing or replacing existing homes is the challenge I as a legislator will push for to identify need, secure funding for the investment to be ongoing and train workforce to complete the task.
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?
Listening to local businesses trying to attract employees for lower wage and skilled worker jobs, a common deal breaker to relocate to the area is the lack of affordable and desirable housing. An increase in wages would still need funding/labor for an extensive effort to rehab or replace existing housing but not outprice future renter/owners or add debt burden. The Central Minnesota Housing Partnership has addressed this effort, as a contractor who bid on these rehab projects I know the challenge facing the homeowner providing the additional funding not covered by the program scope or equity/debt and working with lowest bid contractors when the the homeowners/tenants may have disabilities or enough personal challenges.
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?
Staples recently moved forward a step with an $8 million, 44 unit housing proposal for area residents, to address their struggles with working homelessness. I look forward to providing legislative support for projects like this in our communities benefiting from the resource of the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership and other organizations. Providing access to safe affordable housing, childcare, healthcare and livable wages can help individuals and families with an opportunity to a better future.
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?
Seniors on fixed incomes often stay in their paid for homes that they can no longer maintain or afford upkeep. Expanding access to safe affordable multi-unit senior housing, where meal services and someone to watch on their daily well being would create empty homes that after rehabbing could provide stable, safe and affordable family housing. Finding that non-exploitive transition funding resource, possibly thru establishing a Bank of Minnesota would be a legislative project I would support.
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?
Southern Cass, Todd and Wadena counties have a small but growing population of Latino, Somali and Black rental residents working mostly in lower wage jobs that may not be able to secure homeownership without additional education for higher wage employment along with a path to citizenship for those joining us from other countries. I will represent households of color trying to secure homeownership.
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?
Include investment in support resources to help connect eligible residents with the available inventory of safe affordable housing.
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?
I am interested in exploring how the investment in affordable housing can succeed, adjusting as required and supporting the efforts with dedicated funding.