Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Katy Westlund
Legislative District: 13A
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?
Our governements role, and the people who represent each legislative district have a duty to protect the most vulnerable and to raise up, empower the people.
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?
That is a very big question. I will write policy that lifts up people and empowers people to do what they need to do. That often starts with a place to live, healthcare and the means to start over. I have done a lot of research on various housing alternatives. I aim to transform the housing industry in a way that would help people work towards their own equity, without a bank. That would include people receiving assistance, having ownership of a space/small home, it can be an amazing stepping stone.
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 would like to prevent landlords from using any eviction in credit reporting in the state of MN. There must be funding available to help people stay in their current home and/or funding to help them with a downpayment for a home or mobile unit. Funding the people who need the housing, instead of the land/building owners who are profiting from poverty.
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?
Work towards equity and then justice. Anti-racist policies must be put into place and enforced.
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 will address this from the ground up, supporting the people first, we should be providing resources to the people to purchase or own their own space, a mobile unit, a tiny home, a home or a condo. There is already large cities rethinking how to allocate resources and different ways of home ownership. Minnesota is strong we can transform this situation into something that empowers the people.
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?
The Minnesota's livable communities act has been marginally successful, we need to do better. I would look at land use, building codes/restrictions and how we can change them to better accommodate housing need including taking account of family structure such as several family generations living in one housing unit. Allowing granny flats on residential properties and/or tiny homes in a high density pocket neighborhood . There is no one size fit all for all of MN, because every community has unique needs. Unit affordability should be capped at no more 30% of Minimum wage.
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?
Increase education, discourage single family homes from turning into rental properties...thus keeping first time homes available for first time home buyers.
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?
I will open my ears, learn and work with people who need housing towards creating a better solution.