Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Sandra Feist

City/Town: New Brighton

Legislative District: 41B

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?

Housing is a basic human right, as well as a policy issue that impacts the lives of all residents in a community. Therefore, the government should be actively involved in ensuring strategic, equitable, and quality housing.

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 approach this issue from many angles, including mental healthcare, zoning ordinances, and a deep assessment of the inherit racial inequities in housing policies. To truly address these factors, we need to prioritize funding directed at ending homelessness.

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 take steps beyond Governor Walz’s executive action halting evictions and provide financial support to renters. We also should strengthen housing laws that protect tenants.

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 huge issue that compounds the racial wealth gap because so much wealth is related to home ownership. We must address the path to home ownership and provide support to people of color upon purchasing a home. We need to tackle housing supply constraints and affordability and simultaneously promote an equitable and accessible housing finance system to ensure that borrowers who have been historically targeted for sub-prime mortgages are able to access fair terms from lenders. Once these residents purchase homes, we need to provide societal supports to ensure sustainable homeownership.

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?

We need to take a multi-pronged approach to this entrenched challenge in order to ensure that all Minnesotans have the housing they need. This means that we should support funding for more affordable housing units in strategic locations. We must also ensure that workers receive a living wage and fair benefits so everyone can afford adequate housing.

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 neighborhood in which you live determines access to parks, community centers, and public education, which are essential to health and wellbeing. For this reason, I support policies and funding to encourage diversity of housing so that more Minnesotans have access to these important communal resources. We also need to strictly regulate environmental contaminants that affect the air and water that residents drink so that no matter where you live in Minnesota, your health will not be detrimentally impacted by your zip code.

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?

We can encourage renters to become home owners through targeted outreach and financial counseling. I support policies that would provide access to optimal loan terms and other financial supports to encourage home ownership in this demographic.

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?

I will hold listening sessions and directly reach out to these communities to attend legislative committee hearings and participate in crafting housing solutions.