Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Reed Perkins
City/Town: East Grand Forks
Legislative District: SD1
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?
Housing is a right. The government has many routes towards making certain housing is available to everyone, but the biggest thing to keep in mind is that we can make society work better for everyone by ensuring everyone has housing. It increases happiness, upward mobility, education, and health for all of us while also saving money over many of the anti homelessness measures currently 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 don't know what my character limit is here, so I'll be brief: destigmatize mental illness, guarantee affordable healthcare to all, increase the minimum wage, end the war on drugs, and encourage a system of restorative justice over punishment.
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?
Some of the same items from my answer to question 2, but also to remind everyone that there has been a moratorium on evictions at the state level for months and now there is a federal executive order doing the same thing. Our system hasn't collapsed because of it. Outlawing certain types of evictions and banning some of the currently existing landlord/tenant systems are real and effective solutions that don't result in the doomsday scenarios some people often couple them with.
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 am white, so the most important thing I can do is amplify voices from communities of color to tell their stories about what is happening so more people can become aware, and then taking their solutions and working hard to get them enacted.
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'll again point back to my answer for question 2. Some of these under resourced households are in the financial situation they're in because of our barbaric healthcare system and its associated back breaking costs to our families.
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?
COVID-19 has given us a real opportunity to make progress on things like eviction moratoriums. By keeping people in their homes it has helped fight back against this pandemic and getting the public to see that link is easier right now that it has been ever before. Extending that lesson to looking at improving the outcomes for not just coronavirus but also any number of mental and physical health issues is the next step.
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?
Co-op models are especially of interest to me as it's my current living setup. It is a model we're increasingly seeing younger generations turn to as a solution for both constructing their preferred communities and doing it affordably. That said, we can see successful models for government backed cheaper mortgages guaranteed to veterans and active duty military. We can use that model more broadly to encourage home ownership rather than renting.
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?
By reaching out to them and ensuring their concerns and experiences are heard. That means not just doing digital outreach, but going into the small towns in my district and talking face to face with people about their experiences. We need to bring back the expectation that our legislators are present in our communities and in doing so we can ensure that people other than campaign donors are heard.