Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Renée Cardarelle

City/Town: Annandale

Legislative District: 29A

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?

I believe our government must work to ensure the needs of individuals are met. For too long the market has been used as an excuse to ignore housing needs (among other things). Government does have a role in making sure adequate affordable housing is available, which evidence shows is not developed through traditional market based practices (indeed evidence shows the opposite happens).

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 am in agreement with the idea of providing permanent housing solutions for Minnesota's poor and homeless. While we do need short term solutions for individuals who are in crisis, including temporary shelters, we must invest more heavily in systems that provide longer term solutions - including housing developments that provide low income housing integrated with mid and high level housing. This can be accomplished by establishing local ordinances that enforce affordable housing needs when developments happen. Additionally, I see the opportunity for high end developments that do not want to incorporate affordable housing units providing revenue for temporary shelters

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?

We have the ability to create crisis programs that are easy to access for individuals facing evictions. These programs should include partial or full payments on late rent as well as tracking of problem housing communities where evictions are happening more frequently. Work could be done to develop systems that prevent high eviction rates, with incentives for owners who work to keep people in their homes. Ultimately, until we provide people with living wages and affordable housing we will not see an end to this epidemic.

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?

This is a deep problem in the exurbs which seek to create gated communities catering to white families who do not want to have to deal with what they see as the "race" problem. This gated community mentality is deeply rooted and like all systemic racism requires policies that prevent inequitable systems from developing. The systemic problems must be addressed at the real estate level, at the planning and zoning level and at the larger state level with anti-discrimination guidelines and rules. On top of this, there are BIPOC individuals who move to the community only to be forced out by racial aggression. This pervasive problem is deeper than just housing and will not be solved without a great deal of community dialogue and cultural change.

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?

The first step in this process is ensuring all Minnesotans have access to a living wage. Right now there are communities who are not paid minimum wage -including migrant communities who face status issues. Individuals cannot afford housing if they do not have incomes that can provide for that housing. More importantly the market has been allowed to dictate the type of housing that is established in a community. It is government's role to make sure affordable housing units (less profitable to developers) are encouraged and developed. All new housing developments should include a portion of the units to be set as low income units in a way that integrates them into other more high end areas. 

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?

Right now there are large numbers of individuals living in substandard homes that provide unhealthy environments for the families living there, including mold and pests. The best way to address this is to provide assistance for low income people in maintenance of their housing, especially if they own their home, and to incentivize owners to make sure their properties meet minimum standards for health. Failure to maintain multi-unit dwellings is rampant. The state can ensure this issue is addressed through regulation and enforcement.

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?

There are tried and true programs - such as those developed at HUD - for moving low income individuals into their own homes. Supporting existing programs, enhancing those programs and building up what already works is one solution.

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?

Right now in Wright County and rural Minnesota there isn't even good data on who is in need of housing, the state of homes people are living in or the incidents of homelessness - including coach surfing. One way to begin to address the issues is to actually record the reality in rural Minnesota. With strong data programs can be developed that actually meet people where they are at.