Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Jamie Long

City/Town: Minneapolis

Legislative District: 61B

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?

No Minnesotan should suffer from unstable housing. I believe that housing is a fundamental human right, and that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that all have access to affordable, safe 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 are facing an urgent need to invest in more affordable housing in our state to end our homelessness crisis. We should start by making bold investments in our bonding bill. I support the requests put forward by the Homes for All coalition for starting to meet our true affordable housing construction needs, as well as our needs to help support homeownership, and support our public housing maintenance needs. We must also create a state level rent subsidy program to meet the enormous demand for rent support.

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?

As an attorney who has represented tenants in landlord-tenant court, I know the power of the law to protect housing access and also know that Minnesota laws are woefully weak in protecting tenants. I support enacting just cause eviction, so that landlords must demonstrate a reason to evict a renter. I also support giving tenants the right of first refusal to purchase property if it is being sold. Further, I believe we need to make it harder to discriminate against tenants for incidents they have put behind them, which is one of the main reasons I have authored the Second Chance Act to automatically expunge old convictions, which I believe would make it much easier for returning citizens to find rental housing.

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?

Our homeownership gaps in Minnesota are staggering and shameful. They date back to racist redlining policies, including redlining that was prevalent in the SW Minneapolis district I currently represent. The Mapping Prejudice project has opened many eyes to this history, and I was glad to support our legislation to correct part of this wrong by allowing homeowners to remove racial covenants. To truly address this historic inequity, we must affirmatively fund efforts to help people of color become homeowners, including providing education on financing options, and direct financial support for fist-time home buyers of color.

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 substantially expand funding for more construction of affordable homes. This will mean finding revenue that does not yet exist and elevating homeownership as a priority.

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?

One area I will prioritize is working to improve the energy efficiency of affordable housing. Not only are energy bills typically the second largest expense after rent, we know that a properly weatherized home can reduce respiratory illness and risk of fire. Lead abatement can also often be integrated into weatherization efforts.

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?

As mentioned above, I support allowing renters the right of first refusal if their home is being sold. In multiunit settings, I also support allowing co-operative ownership in possible sale situations. In addition, I support allowing manufactured housing tenants to come together to purchase their properties in the event of a sale.

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 greatly value the conversations I have with constituents and other affordable housing advocates on charting our path together for our housing future. Only by working in close collaboration can I understand the true needs facing our state and my district.