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Libby Murphy, MHP's Deputy Policy Director, provides an update about the bonding bill and what it means for housing going forward.

On October 14, the Minnesota Legislature passed a $1.87 billion bonding and tax bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. Thanks to the persistence of advocates, lawmakers were forced to overcome partisan differences and finally pass a bonding bill in their fifth special session after failing to reach agreement in regular session or in the four previous special sessions.

A bonding bill requires a supermajority of lawmakers in each chamber to pass. The DFL controlled House only needed six votes. The House’s first attempt to pass a bonding bill at the end of regular session n May gained no Republican support and failed on a 75-58 vote. Last week, 25 GOP members voted in favor of the bill, securing a 100-34 vote. It passed in the Senate by a 64-3 vote.

This bonding bill includes hundreds of infrastructure improvement projects around the state, including $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBS) and $16 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds for housing. HIBS will help to create and preserve roughly 500-1000 homes. The GO bonds will help maintain existing public housing units.

Calculating the impact of the bonding investment in housing is challenging because HIBs can be used for a number of eligible uses, including new supportive housing, preservation of existing federally subsidized housing, manufactured housing, and land for land trust homes. Lawmakers, hoping to do more to address persistent homeownership gaps, expanded eligible uses of HIB to build single-family homes. The Homes for All coalition’s request to add “deeper affordability” to build units for households at or below 50% of AMI without supportive services did not make it into the final package.

The bill also included some tax relief for small businesses and farmers. A regular session Senate tax bill had included 4d tax relief for affordable housing while the original House tax bill included a provision to capture $4 million annually of the mortgage registry and deed taxes to fund the Workforce Homeownership and Affordable Housing Program. This capture was included in some special session House and Senate proposals but lawmakers, ultimately, excluded the provision from the final bill.

For the first time, the bonding bill included several “Equity Appropriations” that allocate money for communities that have been left out of the funding process in the past. There are also provisions aimed at ensuring local governments follow the state’s workforce participation goals and equal-pay protections for communities of color and women.

The bonding bill also includes $4.5 million in bonds for a Perspective Family Center in St. Louis Park. These funds can be used for a variety of purposes to support the welfare of homeless children, including supportive housing.

While it could be months before the infrastructure projects financed by the new bonds will get underway, passage of this bonding bill is a relief to housing advocates. More projects that applied to Minnesota Housing for funding in July and who applied in hopes of new and robust state investments will be able to move forward as a result of this bill.

Check out Session Daily for a summary of what is in the bill

Minnesota Housing Partnership submitted a comment on Monday, Sept. 21 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development urging withdrawal of a rule that would sanction discrimination in shelters for people experiencing homelessness. View MHP’s comment here.

“MHP recognizes that the proposed rule change is a part of the current administration’s ongoing efforts to limit the rights and protections for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender people,” wrote Elizabeth Glidden, MHP’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy. “This Proposed Rule would strip protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking HUD-funded shelter and is rooted in harmful and dangerous stereotypes about transgender persons, particularly transgender women.”

“We urge that this proposed rule change be withdrawn in its entirety.”

The rule change was published on July 24 and is titled, “Making Admission or Placement Determinations Based on Sex in Facilities Under Community Planning and Development Housing Programs.” It provides a list of ways for shelters to turn away transgender and gender expansive people. 

“This proposed rule would grant single-gender shelters permission to close their doors to transgender people experiencing homelessness, an unacceptable result,” MHP’s comment states. ”MHP believes that moving forward with this proposed rule change is egregious and cruel, and particularly so during a global pandemic when access to housing may mean the difference between life and death.”

For more than two decades Minnesota law has protected the rights of transgender and gender expensive residents. 

“Minnesota values strengthening protections for transgender community members, not weakening them,” MHP stated. 

MHP is excited to announce Daniel Atunah-Jay as our new Director of Finance and Human Resources. Daniel’s extensive experience in accounting and administration will help position MHP for a strong future in an increasingly complicated fiscal environment.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Daniel’s past experience includes work as an auditor, with a foundation, and as a nonprofit CFO.  He currently serves on the Model Cities Board of Directors where he built a knowledge base on affordable housing, and runs his own social enterprise to support micro entrepreneurs in Africa to maintain their financial records.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Daniel,” said Anne Mavity, Executive Director. “Daniel joined MHP as an interim director of finance earlier this summer and we are excited that he is joining our team full time.”

Daniel joins MHP after a prior tenure as Chief Financial Officer at the Minneapolis Urban League.

On joining MHP, Daniel says, “I am privileged to add my experience to the MHP team who are leaders in advocating for affordable housing for the underserved communities.”