Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Cheryl Youakim

City/Town: Hopkins

Legislative District: 46B

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?

Stabilizing our affordable housing market is even more important during a pandemic when folks are facing economic challenges. I was happy to support $100M of COVID funds to go towards Minnesotan's rents and happy to see the action Governor Walz took.

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? 

Since I have been in the legislature, I have supported the Homes for All advocacy agenda including money for affordable housing in the bonding bill as well as the tax credit for affordable 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?

We need to continue our peace time emergency so we can halt evictions. But, we also need to hep folks pay their rent so that we maintain the affordable housing market. I am also in support of looking at how one can remove an eviction from your record after 5 years.

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 ability to buy a home helps one building wealth for your family. The includes helping folks access to an affordable housing market but building up the stock of affordable housing. But it doesn't just start there, we need to make sure there are fair wages, paid family leave and earned safe and sick leave. We need to make sure we have an economy that works for all and not just a few.

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 tax credits to build affordable housing and the work that many in the Homes for All Coalition are doing. I spoke at our local city council and zoning and planning board in support of a Beacon Housing project in Hopkins. We all need to lend a voice to these efforts.

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?

Housing stability is important for a variety of reason. The stress of not knowing whether or not you will have a roof over your head day to day directly effects ones mental and physical health. It also can affect how well a child does in school. Housing instability, as well as food insecurity, are part of the opportunity gap many of our young scholars are facing. Once again, I support the Homes for All Coalition's push for a tax credit for affordable housing as well as a robust bonding package.

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?

That is a good question. I do not know enough about the programs available out there. I look forward to working with your organization to become more educated in this area.

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?

You are right, including all voices at the table in the decision making process is important but including the voices of those most impacted is paramount. We need to do more outreach in our individual communities as legislators. One of my goals is to work with Beacon, Isaiah, and the Minnesota Housing Partnership to have a Housing Centered Town Hall event.