Minnesota Housing Partnership Candidate Questionnaire (supported by Homes for All)
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Dave Pinto
City/Town: St. Paul
Legislative District: 64B
District Issues: How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
House prices are particularly high in much of my district, with property taxes a concern. I understand that the district has one of the highest proportions of rental units in the state; affordable housing continues to be scarce.
Availability of Affordable Housing: More than 25% of households in Minnesota pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing, meaning they must sacrifice in other areas like food and medicine to make ends meet. What steps will you take to encourage the production of more affordable homes?
I support the work of the Governor's Task Force on Affordable Housing, which recently proposed a series of steps to improve Minnesota's housing. When it comes to the the production of more affordable homes, the Task Force proposes a dedicated, permanent funding source for this purpose. Its proposals also focus on innovation, including expanding the range of housing types in our communities, providing more tools and solutions to local leaders, growing the workforce in our state's building trades, and more.
Workers: A full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment in any county in Minnesota — and many of the fastest growing jobs are in low-wage industries. What investments or policy would you champion to address the growing gap between what workers can afford and housing costs?
Expanding and strengthening the availability of housing should help with housing costs. At the same time, Minnesotans working full-time should be able to support their families, including a safe and stable place to live. I support policies allow this dignity for workers, such as paid family & sick leave, a strong labor movement, and a steadily-rising minimum wage.
Homelessness: A lack of affordable housing options is one of the top reasons for homelessness, for individuals or families. What will you do to end homelessness in Minnesota?
I support the plan outlined in Heading Home Together: Minnesota’s Action Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. As it notes, ending homelessness requires a multi-prong strategy. For short-term homelessness, we need to increase the availability of affordable housing and support for individuals and families. Long-term homelessness requires more intensive efforts with individuals. Several of our counties have been leading the way on this; we should support them.
Seniors and children: More than half of senior renters and more than 1 in 4 senior homeowners pay more than they can afford for housing. Meanwhile, children without stable, affordable housing have lower educational and health outcomes. What will you do to ensure housing policy and resources support Minnesota's seniors and students?
In many respects, the solutions for these groups parallel those for others in society: we need more affordable housing and more support for individuals and families. My particular focus has been on early childhood - communicating how critical housing is at that stage of life. A child experiencing homelessness or high mobility will have a much harder time benefiting from early-childhood education - and this costs all of us.
Racial Disparities: Minnesota's racial disparities in housing are among the worst in the nation, for renters and homeowners. For instance, 22 percent of Black households are homeowners, compared to 76 percent of white households. How will you reduce the racial homeownership gap and other disparities in housing for households of color?
Disparities in housing parallel all of the other disparities - in education, employment, health, etc. - experienced by Minnesotans of color. We need to work on these gaps in combination. My own focus is on the earliest years, ensuring that young children of color and their families are supported.
Rental Stability: Rental assistance is proven to reduce homelessness, housing instability, and overcrowding, but 75% of residents who qualify for rental assistance do not receive this limited resource. What will you do to expand access to housing assistance to every household that needs it?
Federal rental-assistance programs are simply too small to meet the need here. Per the Governor's Task Force, we need to expand state and local such programs, especially those that provide emergency resources and that help people to navigate the housing system.
Funding: We cannot meet our growing, statewide housing needs without significant additional resources. Will you support a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing? Why or why not?
Yes, I would support such a dedicated source. Housing is critical, underlying every other issue we address. It's so much harder for children, families, and everyone to thrive when they don't have a stable, safe, and affordable place to live. It's in the interest of all of us to make housing a priority.