Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Michele Anderson
City/Town: Fergus Falls
Legislative District: SD8
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 government needs to be a strong leader in ensuring everyone has access to housing. Specifically our role should be advocacy, research, funding, and partnerships. We were already facing serious affordable housing issues before COVID, and we need to recognize and act on the fact that access to housing affects the safety and well-being of our communities.
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?
We need to support the full continuum of housing needs to ultimately end homelessness – providing emergency shelter, making sure there is adequate housing stock, and supporting first-time homebuyers. We also need to look at and address the root causes of homelessness and the disparities that cause it, which may be different in one region of Minnesota than another.
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 need to expand housing assistance to support low income households who have been affected by the pandemic, and continue to extend the moratorium on evictions to keep people in their homes, while finding ways to support landlords in the process.
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?
Long term, we need to confront the racial wealth gap endured for generations as the result of disparities in education, the job market, the criminal justice system, real estate and zoning, and more. Short term, I would support programs to assist first time POC homeowners. We also need to strongly enforce anti-discrimination laws and prosecute landlords who are practicing discrimination, as well as provide education about housing discrimination laws. Ultimately, I would look towards representatives and community leaders of color throughout Minnesota for the solutions they feel are most effective.
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 would support housing bonds and other incentives and credits in order to provide the financing that affordable housing developers need to move forward on projects that address this shortage.
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?
Where a person lives affects their health significantly. I would like to see any new affordable housing projects address their tenants’ health needs by ensuring opportunities for active living, smoke-free living, access to healthy food and clean drinking water, and safe, pollution free neighborhoods.
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?
Some renters might be choosing to rent rather than own simply because they do not know enough about the process to home ownership, and/or they can’t afford a down payment or they have bad credit scores. I would support the continuation of homebuyer education programs that help people figure out their goals and understand their options.
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 would make sure to attend meetings regarding housing in my district and the state, and talk to my constituents about their experiences in navigating housing issues. In particular I would seek out the voices of seniors in my district since they are experiencing severe housing disparities. I would also develop strong collaborative relationships with city and county government officials and staff, and nonprofit leaders working in housing.