Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Bonnie Westlin

City/Town: Pillager

Legislative District: 9A

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?

As a legislator I will work to make sure our resources such as the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership have the voice they need to allocate funding needed for affordable housing and improve our communities by repairing residential, rental and commercial properties with low cost loans or grants.

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 will work to not only assist organizations with funding for shelter facilities, but also push for recovery& retraining services needed to help folks get their lives rebalanced

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?

This goes beyond rent forgiveness, we must also keep landlords from falling behind on the property costs they manage. 

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?

There should be incentives to encourage developers, builders and banks to prove they are openly providing equal access

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?
Relocating seniors into affordable independent living could increase availability of existing homes that could be refurbished and sold to families or become county rentals.

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?

Safety and accessibility Improvements can help people stay in their homes longer and energy efficiency remodeling helps with affordability and health.

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?

Increasing affordable options and providing clean slates of past eviction, delinquency or foreclosure history from credit reports might help build the ability to commit to 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?

Community involvement is important when assessing housing needs, hearing how or what people are struggling with also identifies what solutions help.