Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Rita Albrecht
Legislative District: 5
1: A national poll in May 2020 found that 78% of the public believes our elected leaders are not putting enough attention on people’s need for help to pay for their housing during the coronavirus outbreak. What do you believe is the role of government in ensuring everyone has access to housing?
MN Legislature should make safe, secure, affordable housing for everyone a priority. Families, workers and students need secure housing in order to be ready for school and work, be safe, and maintain good health. It is in everyone's interest to make sure Minnesotans can participate fully in our communities including school and work. The MN Legislature can support housing for all by providing funding for MHP, protecting renters' rights, and ensuring that fair lending practices are in place.
2: In Minnesota, 80 of 87 counties do not have the capacity to provide sufficient shelter or temporary housing to those who are homeless. Nationally, a study of US cities found that 25 percent of all requests for emergency shelter went unmet. What will you do to end homelessness?
I have been a champion of community partnerships to address homelessness in Bemidji. I will continue to support full funding for MHP and seek partnerships with organizations that can help end homelessness. We must remove the barriers to development for homeless shelters, transitional housing, and home ownership. Partnerships with developers and builders can also help address housing needs. MN should provide the "gap" needed for developers to cashflow building construction for low income and housing insecure community members. Partnerships should include with business, banks, non-profits, developers, communities, and tribes.
3: According to the Census Bureau's July 22 Household Pulse Survey for Minnesota, and Stout’s analysis of this data, there are 132,000 potential eviction filings over the next 4 months in Minnesota. Over 90% of evictions in Minnesota are for non-payment of rent. What will you do to prevent evictions?
The COVID pandemic presents unique challenges and opportunities to address housing insecurity. The challenge of people losing their jobs and being unable to pay rent has shined a light on housing inequities. State and Federal governments should assist renters and landlords, homeowners and lenders with weathering this crisis. No one should be evicted because of this virus. The MN Legislature could address this challenge by supporting funding to organizations that support housing security.
4: Being denied where to live because of race, family status, or disability is discrimination. In Minnesota, 53% more whites are homeowners than Black residents, a statistic that dwarfs the national racial homeownership gap of 30%. What meaningful steps will you take to address the root problems of racial disparities in housing?
We need to ensure that lenders are fairly and transparently offering mortgages. Funding a housing ombudsman, required lending reporting, and targeted programs that promote minority home ownership could be put in place. We also need to make sure that our zoning ordinances are not keeping people from living where they want to live. Ultimately we need to address poverty so that everyone can afford home ownership if they desire.
5: Our housing crisis includes a lack of safe, stable homes in Minnesota. The 2018 Minnesota Task Force on Housing identified a need for 300,000 new ownership and rental homes over the next decade. While there are 180,000 Minnesota renters with incomes at 30% area median income, only 100 units affordable to these families are produced each year. What steps will you take to support Minnesotans’ access to homes, especially for under resourced households?
We need federal housing assistance in order to fully address the housing crisis in MN. Many of the affordable multi-family buildings in greater MN have "aged out" and are fully depreciated out. Owners no longer need to keep them affordable. We can replace aging affordable housing by helping local HRAs at the city and county level. Funding through MHP has been successful. Making sure that every community understands and is willing to use the tools available to them is important. Many organizations in greater MN focus on housing: CAP programs, Regional Dev. Commissions, non-profits, city and county HRAs, housing developers, etc. We need to make sure all of these organizations are working together and using every program and funding source. The MN Legislature needs to make sure we fund housing development. In addition to housing support, we need to make sure low-income families have access to affordable childcare by funding childcare assistance to free up family resources for rent.
6: More than ever, the public understands the connection between housing and health, as well as education, transportation, and more. What housing-based strategy would you use to improve health outcomes for Minnesotans?
Assuring that everyone has safe housing should be part of our health improvement strategy. I am not sure what strategy would help, but we need community partnerships, including with employers, schools, and landlords to assure housing security.
7: Over 188,000 Minnesota renter households between the ages of 25 and 44 are income-qualified to purchase a home but continue to rent, including 64,000 households of color. What steps will you take to increase opportunities for renters to purchase homes, condos, or cooperative ownership models, if they choose?
I am open to ideas for how to help renters purchase homes, including mortgage support, encouraging a variety of home types, changing local zoning to allow, for example, zero lot line and tiny home developments, and cooperative ownership, etc.
8: Including community recommendations when developing policies and programs is a best practice for effective and lasting solutions. How will you include those impacted by housing needs in developing and implementing housing solutions?
I will engage the community in discussions about housing solutions. It is important to have diverse voices at the table to find the best solutions. These discussions should be held prior to bills being heard in committee and should occur in communities. I will rely on housing partners to help engage communities in the housing discussion.