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Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Laurie Pryor

City/Town: Minnetonka

Legislative District: 48A

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?

As a State Representative, my focus is on Minnesota state government. Our priority right now is to pass a bonding bill. In the July Special Session, I voted for the largest package of financial support for affordable housing yet proposed. Unfortunately, all of the Republican members voted no and the bill failed. We must pass this support and then expand to meet the current crisis.

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? 

In Minnesota, we need to address issues of structural racism and all the opportunity deficits it produces. To end homelessness we need to ensure access to equitable education, high quality and reliable childcare, healthcare, good paying jobs, and affordable housing. We need comprehensive support for families in order to prevent homelessness.

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 will work with the Governor to provide assistance to renters and landlords. Clearly the nonpayment of rent has been caused by high levels of unemployment due to the COVIC-19 pandemic and we must provide relief to help people through this emergency.

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?

I voted with the majority in the House to declare that racism is public health crisis in Minnesota. Going forward, we are bound to consider all legislation through an equity lens. I believe that this is a start for changes Minnesotans want to see. When we identify choices and policies that have a negative impact on communities of color, we must respond and change. It will be a long road back from the disparities that persist today, but we must begin the journey.

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?

As I stated in my first question, our first step is pass the bonding bill.

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?

I know that housing plays an important role in the social determinants of health. Among the strategies that improve health are promoting safe and walk-able neighborhoods, removing environmental hazards in the air and water, and removing environmental hazards in the homes such as lead and radon.

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 would focus on making sure that our statutes support home ownership for groups that traditional have been shut out.

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?

I will make myself available to community groups. Even in these times, virtual meetings do bring people together.