Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Kari Dziedzic

City/Town: Minneapolis

Legislative District: SD60

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?

All levels of government have a role ensuring everyone has access to affordable housing across the housing continuum. We need to increase the amount of housing bonds to build more housing at that lower end of the spectrum (15% to 50% AMI); we need to change policies to allow some bonding money to build better & different shelters and medical respite; and we need to change policies and additional funding to preserve and maintain existing naturally occurring low income housing. We need to enforce housing discrimination laws. We should also look at putting more money into Working Family Credit and/or other housing subsidies to help those making closer to minimum wage afford "affordable" housing.

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 agree with Gov Walz decision to put $100M CARES Act funding towards Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program. That will help keep some people from sliding towards homelessness during this Covid pandemic. We should review the 2018 More Places to Call Home report. We need to create more lower income housing to provide options for those making below 50% AMI. We also need to ensure that we everyone has access to a quality education, affordable healthcare, and transportation so they can get a living wage job and succeed.

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 Gov Walz's eviction moratorium due to the pandemic and am working with others develop a plan for when the peace time emergency ends. The $100M CARES Act FHPAP funding will help some now, but we also need to look at ideas beyond the pandemic. We should look at mediation services to renters and landlords including an intervention / early dispute resolution process that is not court based. We also need better understanding and communication from the courts, legal services, and a smoother financial support process to get emergency assistance funds. There are also some policy changes relating to evictions and tenant protections that we should discuss and enact so that the process is fair including expungements.

 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?
​Minnesota has some strong anti-discrimination laws but we need to ensure they are enforced. We need to enforce current laws against predatory lending practices and redlining and ensure people of color have access to capital and financing to buy a home if that is their preference. We also need to ensure people have access to stable housing, quality education, affordable healthcare and transportation so they get opportunities to be successful.
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? 
​We should put more money into Working Family Credit or another program, like proposed in my bill Bring It Home MN, so that families are not overly cost burdened. We also need to build more low-income housing and preserve and maintain current low-income housing so people have access to truly affordable housing. We also need to ensure people have access to a quality education, affordable healthcare and transportation to set them up to get a good living wage job and be successful.
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?

Stable, affordable housing helps improve education and health outcomes. I think we should start with ensuring that young families with kids are in stable housing by providing more funding to programs like Homework starts at Home so the kids have a good foundation. We should change some policies to allow bonding or other funding to create more medical respite to help give the homeless exiting a hospital a place to get healthy. We also need to ensure the most vulnerable, including the homeless, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and seniors, have access to safe and affordable housing, with supports if needed, so their health challenges are not exacerbated. Housing is cheaper than constant emergency room visits.

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? 

We need to focus on people of color to close the homeownership disparity gap. The 2018 More Places to Call Home report has some good recommendations. We should ensure people of color have access to financial planning assistance and fair financing by partnering with community banks and other financial institutions. We should partner with developers to build and fund programs that help lower income people, especially people of color, can purchase homes if they wish.

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? 

Meeting with constituents, including those experiencing homelessness, in the district and at the Capitol, helps me learn more about their ideas and concerns. It will take a ideas from a variety of people to develop multiple, outside the box solutions, to our housing crisis.