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Minnesota Housing Partnership Candidate Questionnaire (supported by Homes for All)

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Stephen Moeller

City/Town: Thief River Falls

Legislative District: 1A

Party: DFL

District Issues: How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?

The need for affordable housing, whether for renters or homeowners, is high. Workforce housing for companies such as Digi-Key, Textron, Polaris and Marvin Windows is driving the need.

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?

We need to continue to offer incentives to home builders for the building of affordable housing. In Thief River Falls several agencies have joined together to help write down the cost of down payments and affordable mortgages. We need legislation to expand such programs to help provide such housing in the district and state wide.

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?

We need to increase the minimum wage to at least $15/hour. We also need universal health care to decrease the money spent on health insurance.

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?

It's going to cost some money. The first thing we need to is to stop stigmatizing people who need assistance to get on their feet when they've been knocked. down. We need legislation that reverses tax cuts that benefit only the wealthy and start raising revenue. We need to get the minimum wage up to at least $15/hour so people have money to spend on housing. We need to crack down on predatory lenders to stop foreclosures. We need legislation that expands rental assistance so people can stay in their homes. Finally, we need more transitional housing so people can have a safe place to stay while getting back on their feet.

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?

Start by recognizing our obligation to provide resources to support seniors and students. We need additional resources to provide affordable rental properties and offer incentives for building low income housing. We need to expand and increase funding for rental assistance.

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?

We must first recognize the institutional biases that have created this gap. We must recognize that we have essentially written off a segment of our population. We need to address the disparity in unemployment so that people from under served communities have a chance of earning a wage that will allow them to afford a home. We must also hold companies and agencies accountable for discriminatory practices. Finally, we need to work with these communities to mobilize action to address the inequity.

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?

I would propose legislation that reworks the housing assistance program so that it is administered through the State. When assistance is provided on a county by county basis that can lead to inequality in service. Poorer rural counties do not have the funds to provide the same assistance as many metro area counties.

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. The fact is that along with healthcare housing is emerging as one of the biggest problem areas in our State. It's too expensive. This is not an area that can be left to the private sector because the private sector put us in this problem. Safe and stable housing has a positive impact and we need to make sure that we have the resources to meet our statewide needs.