Minnesota Housing Partnership Candidate Questionnaire (supported by Homes for All)
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Alice Mann
City/Town: Apple Valley
Legislative District: 56B
District Issues: How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
I’m running to represent 56B, a district that includes 8 precincts in Burnsville and 3 precincts in Lakeville. In those districts, as in the Twin Cities metro area generally, the demand for affordable housing (for both renters and homeowners) far exceeds the supply of affordable housing. It has been this way for at least a decade.
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?
Many things can be done to improve the situation. Builders can be offered tax incentives and grants to produce affordable homes. Cities can require that apartment complexes and housing developments under construction include some affordable homes. The state can continue and enhance its investment in programs that, for example, provide some assistance to families at risk of homelessness. Also, non-governmental organizations that focus on affordable housing should be encouraged and supported.
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?
For the sake of both the state and the individuals seeking more affordable housing, we must find ways to increase family incomes. A phased-in increase in the minimum wage is a place to start. However, Minnesota has always benefitted from having an educated and skilled workforce. Therefore, I would support education and workforce training focused on the state’s job market needs as a deeper and longer-lasting way to work on the housing crisis faced by so many of our fellow citizens.
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?
Section 8 vouchers can help keep many individuals and families living in homes they can afford rather than become homeless. Builders who benefit from public money could be required not only to ensure that some units they construct were affordable to those who are “housing cost burdened” but also to accept Section 8 vouchers from eligible renters. But homelessness is a complex problem that requires a multi-pronged strategy. In short, I support the “Heading Home Together” action plan for 2018-2020 advocated by the Minnesota Interagency Council.
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?
Regarding seniors: Some developers are responding to the clear need for affordable housing for seniors and are including affordable units in senior housing complexes they are developing. However, given the number of senior households that can’t meet market rates, more most be done. It would help if senior housing were added to the allowable uses of housing infrastructure bonds, as has been proposed in the legislature. Regarding students: Many of the measures I’ve mentioned elsewhere would be of benefit to students, many of whom work at least part-time (e.g., increases in the minimum wage; education/training focus on marketplace needs). Creative efforts such as the Homework Starts With Home program should also be encouraged.
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 home ownership between white households and households of color has been getting worse in Minnesota and is reflective of the more general disparities between whites and people of color. Low income among households of color is a significant factor, and previously mentioned measures to increase income would help communities of color as well. However, we must also identify and eliminate discriminatory housing practices and other means of discriminating against people of color that put them at a disadvantage when it comes to home ownership. Also, efforts to increase the supply of affordable single-family homes should be pursued.
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?
The situation would be greatly helped if Minnesota established a sustainable funding source that would be devoted to rental assistance, as has been suggested. Those with the greatest need would be favored in the disbursement of rental assistance monies. Similar funding sources could be developed at the county and perhaps city levels.
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 absolutely support such a fund. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to thrive and Minnesota as a whole will thrive when we all do. Housing is a fundamental life need and affordable housing should be a goal for all our citizens.