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

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Renee Cardarelle

City/Town: Annandale

Legislative District: 29A

Party: DFL

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

Currently Wright County has an average 1 bedroom rent of close to $800. This is out of reach for anyone earning less than $16 an hour making it hard for low income families and individuals to find homes. In addition, the elderly living on a limited income are often trapped into difficult situations, living in their existing homes without the finances to keep them properly maintained or moving to senior housing that does not meet their needs. In Wright County there is little incentive to focus on the needs of low income families.

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?

My first step would be to clearly understanding what housing requirements are in place for providing low income housing in Wright County as well as the state as a whole. I would want to meet with organizations that are working on affordable housing options to determine better paths for helping individuals and families find housing that suits their needs.

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?

I believe this must be a two-pronged approach. Raising the minimum wage would be one step in help to decrease this gap, however, we must control the rising costs of housing or we could face a spiral where as income rises, so do the costs of housing. Again, this is not an area of expertise of mine, so I would want to rely on others who have experience in this work to determine how we can meet the housing needs of all Minnesotans.

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?

The first step in ending homelessness is housing those who do not have places to live. This seems so simple and yet it is so complicated to enact. I would work to making sure we have programs that help people find temporary housing while overcoming the crisis that led to their homelessness. In addition, since many homeless have mental health issues, this concern must also be addressed if we are to end the cycle of homelessness for this vulnerable population.

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?

Minnesota (and the country) has a growing senior population. We need to invest in solutions for them before we face a crisis. Senior care facilities that are responsible and support for family members who care for seniors are part of the solutions. Similarly support of families with children are essential. My children and I lived in substandard housing and were unable to move because of the cost of housing. I would support programs to ensure all Minnesotans have homes that are safe and stable.

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?

At the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, where I work, we currently have first time home owner programs provide by HUD. I support these types of programs, but feel they are not enough. There are some who have homes that do not have the resources they need to maintain these homes and home ownership is out of reach for many whose incomes are too low.

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?

Rental stability is key to ensuring stable housing. When landlords are able to raise rent without consideration to renters income it is a losing proposition for low income people. Low income housing is not a high profit industry and for this reason the market does not do well at ensuring that low income housing is readily available. For this reason, our government agencies must develop systems to ensure there is plentiful low income housing.

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 believe it is a part of our responsibility as a society to develop the infrastructure, including house, that allows people to thrive.