Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Randy Brock

City/Town: Rochester

Legislative District: 26B

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?

Safe and stable housing is a human right. I believe it is the government’s role to work with stakeholders to find solutions. I believe it starts with reducing barriers for renters and homeowners, followed by addressing the cost of building affordable housing, and finally preventing foreclosures and evictions.

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? 

Let’s work to provide a living wage to workers. The cost of housing has gone up, partially caused by the cost of building to fulfill the housing shortage. The state must also work to provide supplemental funding through a strong bonding bill that incentives builders to commit to affordable housing, and we need to prevent homelessness by finding alternatives to eviction and foreclosure.

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 am supportive of all programs that seek to protect a renter’s legal rights and finding collaborative solutions. This includes Eviction Right to Counsel, community mediation, and expanding eviction clinics. Additionally, I am supportive of the Legal Paraprofessional Practice Pilot Project under consideration by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Finding these methods to address the high-rate of eviction is important, because, especially for smaller landlords, non-payment of rent can lead to foreclosure, which would just delay the forceful removal of the renter. There is also a potential opportunity here for state grants and/or funding for those tenants and landlords to keep the housing available.

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?

The housing gap for Black residents is a direct result of the wealth gap, and we are still recovering from discriminatory practices, such as redlining and racial covenants. We need to supply and preserve affordable homes, optimize land use, and equitably increase access to credit, while continuing to deconstruct the discriminatory practices of our past. A grant program for down payment assistance, or something similar, would begin to address this gap.

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?

State and local governments need to work with developers to collectively find solutions, including funding through bonding, for affordable housing development. As the cost of supplies and labor has increased, so has the cost to build these projects. We must bring stakeholders, including renters, together to find solutions.

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?

Early intervention before homelessness and working to provide health and other social services for those who are homeless. We are seeing this very clearly with COVID-19, where those without housing are at a higher-risk for contracting simply because they don’t have a safe place to shelter during the pandemic.

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?

I think the state should boost the MHFA and similar programs that provide low-interest down payment loans to these Minnesotans. Additionally, this age bracket is the most impacted by the student loan crisis which impacts ability to pay and the credit required to purchase a home. I believe we need to look for ways to help with student debt refinancing and forgiveness, which in turn will help these Minnesotans afford home ownership.

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 believe all stakeholders should have a seat at the table in development of public policy, and that includes members of the community, especially those who are renters. I look forward to working with the Minnesota Housing Partnership to dive in and address this crucial issue.