Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Lindsey Port
Legislative District: SD56
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?
Having a home is basic and essential to the stability required for one's personal success, which in turn contributes to the well-being of our state. The private sector alone cannot completely address the public's need for housing. Therefore, one role of government is to ensure that all of our state's residents have access to housing. This can be done in various ways, such as public financing, incentives, and mandates.
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 am very much in support of the Housing First model, to get Minnesotans experiencing homelessness into permanent affordable housing as soon as possible and to give them access to rental assistance and support services that will allow them to keep that housing. Other measures include the establishment of a living wage and social services in the areas of dependency treatment, domestic violence, and workforce training.
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?
Particularly at this time of pandemic, when so many people have lost their jobs and their ability to pay their rent or make their mortgage payment, it's important to provide them with protection from eviction. I support efforts to provide housing assistance money to people at risk of eviction and also to require landlords and mortgage holders to give adequate notice of intent to evict, so that arrangements can be made to avoid eviction.
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?
Racial disparities in housing reflect systemic racism generally. For example, Black Minnesotans are more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts, and, once arrested, more likely to be convicted. In 2016, HUD stated that turning down tenants or mortgage seekers because of a criminal conviction on their record may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. It is de facto discrimination for a landlord or lender to have a blanket policy against all those with criminal convictions. To address systemic racism in housing, a multi-dimensional approach is needed to get at the root problems responsible. In addition to passing protections that limit how far back landlords can go when running a background check (similar to the reforms passed in Minneapolis), fully funding our public schools would help narrow the educational achievement gap. Addressing problems in economic opportunity, affordable healthcare and safety are also needed. Stronger enforcement of existing laws on financial practices (e.g., lending) would also help.
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?
Measures I support include tax incentives for builders who produce affordable homes and grants to builders to produce affordable homes. Apartments and housing developments being planned can be required to include some affordable homes. Non-governmental organizations that focus on affordable housing should be encouraged and supported. Also, the state can invest in programs designed to assist families at risk of homelessness.
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?
Those with poor living conditions are more likely than others to have poor health. Community health can be improved through housing-based strategies that focus on neighborhood stability, soundness of construction, management of toxins in and around the home, and community safety. Also, partnerships between the healthcare and housing industries can generate innovative approaches that yield positive results for both sectors.
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?
For Minnesotans who choose to buy rather than rent, there are helpful programs available, such as the Start Up, Step Up, Deferred Payment Loan, Monthly Payment Loan, and Mortgage Credit Certificate programs. Federal programs, including counseling services, are also available, All these consumer aids are deserving of continued support.
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?
Earlier this year, the city of Minneapolis held a series of meetings open to the public inviting community input on housing policy. Other cities (e.g., Mankato) have reached out to their residents for input as well. Such efforts are part of responsible governance. Also, if approached by citizen groups, local governments should make good-faith efforts to be responsive to concerns.