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Report by Hibo Ali, MHP's Capitol Pathways intern for 2021. 

MHP hosted its third State and Legislative Update Series of the year on February 5, 2021. MHP heard from Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) Commissioner Jennifer Ho, Senator Rich Draheim (R, 20), Dave Anderson of All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC), and Natividad Seefeld of Park Plaza Cooperative.

State Update
MHFA Commissioner Jennifer Ho and Chair of the Senate Housing Finance and Policy Committee, Senator Rich Draheim, joined MHP to talk the Governor’s budget, Senate Housing priorities, and more.

Commissioner Ho highlighted the significance of priorities laid out in the Governor’s Budget Proposal during COVID-19. Commissioner Ho emphasized that importance of making certain investments during COVID-19 in order to aid in economic recovery. She went on to call the budget the “COVID-19 recovery budget”. Commissioner Ho also noted the strong effect housing has on almost every other aspect of daily life (e.g., kids in schools); if housing is invested in early on or proactively, a lot less money and focus is spent in these other areas. Additionally, Commissioner Ho reiterated the point that low-income folks have undoubtedly been hit the hardest “both by the pandemic and the economic fallout” that ensued. Finally, when asked about the prospects of a source-of-income discrimination proposal, Commissioner Ho said she was “hopeful” but that it is still too early to bet on prospects.

Sen. Draheim, who currently chairs the Senate Housing and Finance Policy Committee, previously served on Governor Dayton’s Task Force on Housing. Sen. Draheim explained that while there are many intricacies of housing policy that range from topics of “homeownership to homelessness to everything in between,” there is a need to conceptualize housing policies a little more “outside the box.” Sen. Draheim then laid out his current housing priorities. His priorities include addressing the racial homeownership gap in Minnesota, finding an off-ramp for the eviction moratorium, figuring out a way to handle the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, creating a pathway to homeownership, and addressing housing instability/homelessness.

Community Perspective
Executive Director of All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC), Dave Anderson, and president of Park Plaza Cooperative, Natividad Seefeld, joined MHP to discuss what is happening with manufactured housing in Minnesota.

Anderson highlighted the large role manufactured housing plays in providing affordable housing throughout the state. Anderson shared a few of APAC’s proposals this legislative session to combat some problems faced by manufactured home park residents. One of these proposals includes the need for resident opportunity to purchase––this includes a 60-day advance notice of intended park sales and negotiating with home park residents in good faith. Additionally,  Anderson emphasized the need for a proposal that ensures rent stabilization. Finally, Anderson spoke about the feasibility of these proposals as they are already in effect in a number of states.

Seefeld reiterated many of Dave’s points. Seefeld explained the significance of giving home park residents the opportunity to purchase. Seefeld pointed out that this was especially important in cases where homes are simply too old to move; this puts residents that aren’t given the opportunity to purchase the land beneath their home in a very tough position. Seefeld was glad to share that they successfully secured Rep. Connie Bernardy as an author to an opportunity to purchase bill that will undoubtedly help many Minnesotans.