July Investors Council Recap: Legislative recap, COVID19, and race equity

MHP’s Investor’s Council Breakfast returned on July 8 for a virtual meeting. This was the first meeting since February, and the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted health, housing, and the economy, and the murder of George Floyd has galvanized the largest civil rights movement in US history.

“Since we last met, our world, our country, our communities – everything has been turned upside down and inside out,” MHP Executive Director Anne Mavity said. “Even before any of this happened, together we understood that access to affordable housing, was something so fundamental to support the health and success of families, of school children, of our elders and senior citizens, for workers, and for strong communities.”

Mavity noted the challenges ahead: Housing is an economic stimulus that creates jobs that our state needs, and creates shelter so people can stay healthy (“you can’t stay safe at home if you have no home”) and disparities are a key part of the affordable housing crisis.  

“We know more clearly today, than ever before, that we cannot successfully solve our affordable housing crisis, without also understanding, addressing and untangling the policies and programs that have resulted in poorer outcomes in housing for Black, indigenous, and People of Color.  We can do better. We must do better.”

Commissioner Jennifer Ho echoed that in remarks to more than 100 attendees participating via Zoom. 

“Many things are different, but some things are the same; We had a housing shortage before the pandemic, we have one today.”

“At Minnesota Housing we are doing kind of a shift in our thinking from racial equity to housing justice,” said Ho. “We’re thinking a lot about who’s most impacted by COVID, particularly who is on the brink of losing their home.”

Ho said MHFA is focused on getting housing bonds passed through a legislative session that has been like no other with social distancing and continuous special sessions complicating the picture. 

“Our main focus is going to continue to be the housing bonds — both HIB and public housing preservation bonds. Unless there is state action, a lot of developments will not have the financing they need to move forward. Please continue to make the case as loudly as possible, as creatively as you can,” Ho told the attendees.  

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who received MHP’s Legislative Leader Award, also addressed attendees.

“I’d like to thank the advocates, in particular, MHP and all of your partners, who have continued to keep the pressure on to ensure leaders on all sides know what a priority is housing is. Even in a pandemic, you are making your voices heard. Please keep the pressure on as the legislature convenes on Monday.”

She noted that the housing crisis is worsening and noted the historic number of people at an encampment in Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis. 

“This moment is showing the cost of decades of underfunding and neglect. We need more affordable housing. Housing is a foundation. It is incredibly important to every aspect of people’s lives.”

She added that pressure needs to continue on lawmakers to pass $260 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds.

“I have received more calls and emails about housing in the last two weeks than ever before.  So many people are just waking up to the challenges that folks are facing. And while it is heartbreaking for a lot of people to wake up to that reality, it also means it is great news because our team of advocates and folks who share our passion is growing.”

Five elected officials were announced to have won MHP’s Legislative Leader Award. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Sen. Jeff Hayden, and Reps. Mike Howard, Aisha Gomez, and Dean Urdahl. 

A panel discussion with D’Angelos Svenkeson, of NEOO Partners, Inc.; Shoua Lee, Vice President of Community Development at Wells Fargo; and Sarah Berke, Program Officer at Family Housing Fund, delved into topics being tackled by MHP’s Public Policy Advisory Group, which has developed criteria for housing finance policy evaluation. The criteria include: race equity, getting greatest impact from limited public dollars, securing predictable and dependable funding, and enhancing wealth and ownership options. 

Watch the full PPAG discussion here:

To be part of these dynamic conversations, become a contributor or renew your contribution in the MHP Investors Council today!