Housing and homeless organizations share high hopes for bonding victory

After bonds for housing were left out of last summer’s bonding bill, housing and homeless organizations and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency have been determined to work together to make bonding for housing a top priority at the Minnesota Legislature this year. As the end of session draws near, advocates are hopeful that their hard work together will pay off.

billdingThe Minnesota Senate proposed $36 million in bonds for housing and homelessness in their omnibus bonding bill this week. This is $4 million more than the $32 million in bonding for housing recommended by the governor earlier this year. The $36 million proposal comes as welcome news after last week, when the House of Representatives proposed only $15 million in bonds for housing and homelessness.

If passed, the bonding package will invest in public housing rehabilitation, housing preservation, rental housing development and community land trusts, and permanent supportive housing construction and rehabilitation. (See chart at end for a more detailed breakdown).

In response to the low amount in the House proposal, members of the HousingJobs Campaign, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Minnesota NAHRO, Minnesota Community Land Trust Coalition, Lutheran Social Service of MN, MN CAP and many others have been at the Capitol telling legislators that more was needed. Mr. Bill Ding from HOME Line also made a special appearance, visiting several legislators and telling them he’ll be able to undergo much-needed rehab if bonds for housing are passed.

With housing included in the key bonding bills from the House, Senate, and Governor (see chart), we will likely see some money for housing passed this session. But the final amount is yet to be determined. Going forward, the House and Senate will have to come to agreement on bonding amounts in conference committee, the final bill will have to pass with votes from at least three-fifths of the members in each body, and the Governor will have to sign the legislation.

Although our work together is far from over, we can take a second to celebrate how far we’ve come. This session, members of the HousingJobs Campaign have had at least 65 meetings with key legislators alone. Add to that a chorus of other voices joining us from partner organizations. The buzz at the Capitol was fed by the media stories generated by MHP’s latest 2×4 Report and Out of Reach releases this month.

Stay tuned for an action alert and more news soon- and contact Julie Johnson if you’d like to get in on the fun by meeting with legislators at the Capitol.

“What unites us is far greater than what divides us.” ~John F. Kennedy
Bonding Side-By-Side Comparison
House (HF 2622)  
Senate (SF 2577)
Governor (HF 2205/SF 1823) 
Public Housing rehabilitation (general obligation bonds) $5 million $6 million $7 million
Housing Infrastructure Bonds to address foreclosures, permanent supportive housing for the homeless, and federally subsidized rental housing. (appropriations bonds) $10 million $30 million $25 million
TOTAL $15 million $36 million $32 million