For housing advocates in Minnesota, 2012 is an exciting year at the state capitol. Bonding, bonding, bonding is the word, with housing advocates coming together in unprecedented ways to support investment of state dollars in housing. Two bonding bills for housing have been introduced, similar in all ways except for the amounts they would generate for housing. One includes $32 million for housing (part of the Governor's bonding bill), and the other is a larger $40 million stand-alone housing bonding bill. The voices of advocates are being heard, and the optimism is contagious.
- $30 million for bonds that address foreclosures, permanent supportive housing for the homeless, and federally subsidized rental housing. These "housing infrastructure" bonds are sold by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, with the legislature pledging to repay over time.
- $10 million in public housing bonds would rehabilitate the aging public housing stock. Public housing serves extremely low income Minnesotans, including people with disabilities and seniors.
The Governor's bonding bill has identical language, but the amounts for the two bond types come in lower, at $25 million and $7 million respectively.
The lobbyists at the capitol report that housing is getting good traction these days, thanks to many constituents making their voices heard. In addition to MHP and MCCD spearheading the HousingJobs Campaign, major organizational supporters of bonding for housing include Habitat for Humanity, Minnesota NAHRO, Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, and Lutheran Social Services.
Hearings are expected March 5th on the $32 million bill in the Senate, and March 8th on the $40 million bill in the House.
This is a great time to thank the bill authors of the new $40 million bill with bi-partisan support. Co-authors include:
- Senators Pederson (St. Cloud); Hayden (Minneapolis); Tomassoni (Chisholm); Brown (Becker); Miller (Winona) in the Senate
- Representatives Howes (Walker); Hausman (St. Paul); McFarlane (White Bear Lake); Hansen (South St. Paul); Clark (Minneapolis); Ward (Brainerd) in the House.