Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020
Candidate responses in italics.
Name: Jen McEwen
Legislative District: SD7
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 private housing market has never been able to fully meet the needs of people for quality affordable housing. It is therefore the responsibility of the public sector to step in to make sure that this basic human need is met. There are many methods through which the government can fulfill this responsibility - direct investment in publicly-owned housing, public-private partnerships, subsidies to private developers, subsidies to tenants, and rent control, for instance. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, government at virtually all levels has abandoned its obligation to ensure there is a sufficient stock of quality affordable housing to meet the public need. We need to recommit ourselves to that principle and then determine the proper mix of policy tools to achieve it. In addition, the public sector has an obligation to provide supportive services to help those who face non-financial barriers to housing keep a roof over their heads.
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?
Research shows that the “housing first” approach to ending homelessness is the most effective, both in terms of cost and in terms of outcomes. While we must invest in mental and chemical health programs with a goal of treatment on demand, aggressive state investment in affordable housing development must be a priority homelessness response. In the meantime, we should implement existing disaster shelter plans in communities that have insufficient shelter space.
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 support the continuation of the current eviction moratorium through the pandemic. An eviction moratorium, however, can only last so long before it causes irreparable harm to small landlords. For that reason we must boost funding for emergency rental assistance and find new paths to educate qualified households who may not be aware of these resources.
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?
I will support statewide coordinated testing to collect data on racial bias in rentals and home sales, investment in community based programs offering education and pathways to homeownership, and racial equity measures in all housing bonding bills.
I will meet regularly with Duluth’s Affordable Housing Coalition and other community partners. I would particularly look forward to participating in housing listening sessions with people who are experiencing the consequences of Duluth’s affordable housing crisis firsthand.