Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: John Marty

City/Town: Roseville

Legislative District: 66

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?

The US Constitution says the role of the government is to "promote the general welfare". To promote the general welfare requires that we work to ensure that all people can afford safe, stable housing. It is the role of government to help make housing available and affordable to all.

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? 

Homeless shelters and temporary housing options are not sufficient or acceptable in a wealthy society like ours, but they are necessary when we have failed to provide sufficient housing and have a homelessness crisis. I support funding for more shelters and temporary housing, and also for constructing more affordable housing, both public and private, and I support restructuring the economy so that everyone can afford housing.

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 strongly support Governor Walz’s eviction moratorium but recognize that it is not sufficient. When the moratorium ends, people will still owe the back rent, and if they have been laid off and facing hard times because of the pandemic, they will be unable to pay and be evicted at that point. We need to push the federal government to provide financial assistance to help people pay back rent, and do what we can at the state level to assist as well.

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?

Because of the historic and ongoing discrimination, we need to have an open conversation about some form of compensation to undo the damage from that discrimination. We must also root out ongoing systemic racism that continues to increase disparities. In addition, we can eliminate the worst part of the problem by addressing poverty and the wealth gap – making sure that no person, of any race, is left in poverty. By eliminating poverty, we ensure that all people have the funds necessary to pay for necessities such as housing. I am author of a package of legislation designed to end poverty in Minnesota, carrying out the underlying goals of the Commission on Ending Poverty from 2008.

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 support significant increases in investments in affordable housing to meet the full range of needs, including workforce housing, senior housing, and various levels and types of low-income housing (both public and private). In addition, as mentioned earlier, I have authored legislation that would provide greater resources for those households who have inadequate resources to pay for safe, stable 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?

People without stable housing have little chance of living healthy lives. When people lose their housing, they are far more likely to face serious mental, chemical, and physical health problems. Consequently, we need safe, secure housing for all. In addition, to address the health challenges that often lead to, or aggravate, homelessness, I am author of legislation that would provide funds to community health clinics to pay for nurses and social workers who would do outreach to people living on the streets, to address their health needs, and bring them in for appropriate care, regardless of their insurance status. Finally, I am author of the proposed Minnesota Health Plan, which would provide comprehensive health care, including dental, mental health and substance use treatment to all people, regardless of their housing or insurance status.

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?

Homeownership is, for most people, an important investment, yet many who want to buy cannot afford suitable housing. I support investment in building quality, lower priced units that are affordable to these renters, and home ownership assistance programs to help people purchase such homes. This is a wise investment in the economic future of many Minnesota households.

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?

Although I don’t serve on the committees dealing with housing, I understand the importance of working with people in the community to develop wise housing policies that meet community needs. I appreciate the fact that my representative, Alice Hausman, and some other legislators who work on housing issues value community engagement and work with housing advocates and the advocacy community to make sure policy proposals are appropriately designed and implemented.