Nov. 2020 Investors Council Recap: Looking forward to 2021

The second virtual Investors Council meeting of 2020 was held on Nov. 18 and featured a panel of journalists to answer the question: “What does the 2020 election mean for affordable housing?” 

But first, MHP honored seven housing advocates that made a big difference in 2020. 

“We succeed in our advocacy work because of the outstanding efforts of people like you,” said MHP’s executive director Anne Mavity. 

Those honored on Wednesday include: D’Angelos Svenkenson, Founder & CEO, NEOO

Partners Inc.; Jenny Larson of Three Rivers Community Action; Nelima Sitati Munene of ACER; Asad Aliweyd of New American Development Center; Chad Adams of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership; and the Swift County Collaborative. You can read more about these Outstanding Advocates at the MHP Connect blog

In her remarks, Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho praised those advocates — and all advocates fighting for housing and shelter. 

“Advocacy matters. And with legislative sessions during COVID, it matters even more because we can’t pack the capital or the offices.”

She added, “If there’s one takeaway from my remarks today… I just want to say that advocacy really, really matters. So thank you again to the advocates and to MHP, and Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, and Homes for All.”

She noted that support and momentum are crucial in this moment when so many people need assistance — including the $100 million in housing assistance that Minnesota Housing is administering and counties are implementing.  

“We need your help supporting the local grant administrators who have seen an overwhelming asks for assistance. The need has not gone away just because the federal support has gone away.”

A panel discussion about the 2021 legislative session’s potential impacts on housing included C Terrance Anderson, Director of Community Programs at CURA; Peter Callaghan from Minnpost, and Briana Bierschbach from the Star Tribune. 

“The needs around housing are great,” Anderson said. “We are seeing an intensified reality around housing. Gentrification, disinvestment in communities, and redlining really shaped what is happening today and these are vital to understanding what is happening in Twin Cities.”

Anderson noted that Minnesota is in store for a huge surge in evictions. “We have this moratorium for folks not to be evicted but as soon as that ends, we are in for a tidal wave of evictions.” 

He said policy solutions can help alleviate that including extending the evictions filing timeline and enacting financial assistance. “Renters need more time to reconcile with landlords and a lot more help from the feds and state.”

On how lawmakers and decision-makers view racial disparities in housing, Anderson said, “I think everybody’s politics should have changed post-George Floyd,” he said. “The priorities are quite clear about BIPOC communities: Employment, education, and housing. The opportunities are there and the ideas are there but will they be prioritized?”

Peter Callaghan of Minnpost noted that some bonding could happen. “Is there appetite for another bonding bill? They’ve always done a smaller bonding bill in the odd year — the first year of the legislative. And they would have last time if they were so tied up in partisan disputes.” 

He added, “Housing has not been a controversial vote on bonding. If there’s a bonding bill I would anticipate there would be housing money in it.”

But, he said, it could get complicated. “Republicans have pushed for the addition of housing regulatory reform to any additional bonding money. I think that will happen again.” 

Briana Bierschbach from the Star Tribune noted that the upcoming session will be tough. 

“These people find ways to disagree even on things they agree on.”

She agreed that political realities changed after the George Floyd uprisings and that there’s a broader consensus among Republicans — especially Paul Gazelka who met with families who lost loved ones to police brutality. 

In addition, she said, “The pandemic has hit people that are vulnerable the hardest and taken all these issues in our society and made them visible for everyone.”

But, most issues will be a tough sell in 2021. “When things are really hard, legislators tend to get done only what they have to get done. There will be so many battles just to respond to the pandemic, just to get a budget passed. A lot of issues probably won’t get attention.” 

The conversation was much deeper, insightful, and complex than can be captured in this blog so be sure to watch it here: 

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