Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Sydney Jordan

City/Town: Minneapolis

Legislative District: 60A

Party: DFL

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?

The availability of housing is intrinsically linked to government decisions, from land use to subsidized housing funding. Minnesota should allocate more funding to subsidized housing production to meet growing demand. Passing a bonding bill is a great way to start. Simultaneously, the state must ensure that the housing being created is widely available across all community types, in order to avoid creating or intensifying the segregated living patterns that defined our cities in the past. One critical tool in increasing both the availability of housing and ensuring that it is more equitably sited is the state’s power over land use. Exclusionary zoning that bars low-income and multifamily housing from affluent areas should be eliminated, while a general effort to ease up land use restrictions allows the private market to meet current high demand for housing where appropriate. Of course, private developers can’t fill everyone’s housing needs, which is why we need more shelters, more stable housing, transitionary housing and programs to support paths to homeownership for people of color.

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 strongly believe the state has an obligation to meet the basic needs of ALL Minnesotans by fully funding public education, providing access to health care and other health services, including treatment for mental health and addiction issues, and building more housing across the state. Revenue for these efforts should be raised from increased taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans and corporations. This is the fairest and most straightforward way of financing a social safety net that, ultimately, benefits all Minnesotans. Another step we can take is to add capacity for shelters in suburban and rural communities, so that those in need don’t need to travel to find a safe shelter.

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?

I have strongly advocated for and pushed the Walz administration to both issue his eviction moratorium and keep it in place. We must also prioritize rent payment assistance programs and do a better job educating both renters and landlords on programs available. I support stronger tenant protections, implemented through state law and enforceable through private litigation.

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?

Minnesota has some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, but too often it is ignored. We must pass legislation that creates programs to better identify and then prosecute landlords and lenders who discriminate against people of color. We must also look at discrimination against individuals with a disability, families with children, senior citizens, and individuals who rely on public assistance to pay for housing. This is particularly important at the present moment, when the Trump administration is stripping out core federal housing protections implemented through the Fair Housing Act. Every rule or regulation eliminated by Trump should be recreated in state law, so that his administration’s abuses do not deprive Minnesotans of their hard-fought civil rights.

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?

I want to massively increase the supply of housing in Minnesota, so that shortages do not lead to high unit prices for renters. This is particularly important in high-demand, high-amenity areas, where housing demand hugely outstrips the stagnant number of units. In addition, it is important to find every possible means of increasing subsidies to low-income renters. Rental subsidies should be strengthened with statewide source-of-income protections.

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?

Too many Minnesotans fall through holes in our social safety net. In addition to taxing the wealthiest Minnesotans and corporations we must simultaneously lower the costs of healthcare and housing to ensure everyone has the means to live their lives with dignity and respect. We must allow all Minnesotans to buy into a public option for healthcare and at the federal level pass Medicare for All. We also must build affordable housing across the state.

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?

We need to directly address the systemic discrimination that prevents low-income renters from achieving homeownership. This includes major private-market discrimination in the real estate market, including disparities in access to financial services and mortgage lending discrimination. In addition, we need to prioritize programs for Homebuyers of Color to close the homeownership gap. We need downpayment assistance and do a better job of connecting interested parties with opportunities. We also need to build more housing to address the shortage of housing.

8: Including community recommendations when developing policies and programs is a best practice for effective and lasting solutionsHow will you include those impacted by housing needs in developing and implementing housing solutions?

It’s important that these voices are included in crafting legislation. I have spoken to many community members in my district including constituents without shelter about their needs. It’s important for legislators to spend time away from the capitol and talk to constituents and bring those constituents with them to the capitol. I will continue to be a legislator who prioritizes the voices of my constituents.