Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Greg Clausen

City/Town: Apple Valley

Legislative District: SD57

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?

One of the basic responsibilities of government is to provide for the safety and well-being of citizens. Housing is a basic human need leading to stability, safety and an adequate standard of living. Government must ensure access to housing for all.

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? 

As a former Dakota Woodlands Homeless Shelter Board Vice-Chair, I am familiar with the challenges relating to providing shelter for those experiencing homelessness. Accessible housing options are needed to end homelessness. However, additional housing is not the only answer. A coordinated community-wide response to homelessness is needed. Coordinated access to support services, while providing housing assistance, will address both short and long-term homelessness. These initiatives require financial support at all levels of government.

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 support Governor Walz's emergency order suspending evictions. I also support the $100 million in federal CARES Act funding allocated to the rental assistance program for lower-income Minnesotans. The current Family Prevention and Assistance Program must be supported beyond our current COVID-19 pandemic.

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?

Home ownership is critical for increasing the wealth of American households. This is especially important for families of color. The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency plays a critical role in lending to underserved households. This agency plays an important role in serving households outside the private mortgage industry. Beyond the role of government, additional private/public housing partnerships are needed. Providing tax incentives are a good starting point for these types of initiatives.

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?

Refer to question 6.

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?

People need a place to live and other basic necessities before they can be successful in other aspects of life. A key strategy to ensure healthy outcomes related to housing is to provide a safe and stable housing environment. Current Medicaid screening tools for identifying housing instability are a useful toll. Those identified as requiring assistance, are provided funds for housing stabilization, housing transition or crises intervention. I support expanding these screening programs beyond Medicaid.

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 supporting the expansion of Minnesota Housing programs including: the Start-Up Loan Program, Step-Up Program, Deferred Payment Loan Program, Monthly Payment Loan, and Mortgage Credit Certificate Program. I also support expanding Zero Down Payment and Down Payment Assistance mortgage programs.

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?

Individual stories by those impacted by homelessness and housing advocates are powerful and must be heard. In 2017, Senator Hall and I held an open forum on affordable housing. This forum is an example of listening to those directly involved in the housing industry leading to community and legislative action plans.