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Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Emma Greenman

City/Town: Minneapolis

Legislative District: 63B

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?

Housing is a human right and we all need to work together -- state, local, federal governments, philanthropy, and others to collectively address the issue and ensure every Minnesotan has affordable housing and a place to call home.

I know what it's like to move around a lot, in search of safe affordable housing. As a kid, I felt the anxiety of being on a waiting list for affordable housing units, and I remember the sense of relief when my mom was approved for a housing subsidy. Public support of affordable housing provided my mom and me stability and safety. No kid or family should have to worry about whether they can stay in their home, their community and their school because of a lack of affordable housing. For me, housing stability is deeply personal and informed by my own experience. I will carry that lens into my work in the House of Representatives.

I will fight here in Minnesota for policies that promote and advance housing stability for Minnesotans across the continuum - but particularly for those requiring deeply affordable housing to achieve true and lasting stability. This would include, but not be limited to, greatly expanded rental assistance for families, increased home-ownership among BIPOC communities and creating more realistic pathways for lower-wage working families to buy their own homes; fight for significant investments in affordable housing and public housing rehab in future bonding bills, and leverage both proven and innovative new approaches to preventing and ending homelessness in Minnesota. I will work to expand and preserve affordable housing and protect and empower tenants’ rights initiatives. 

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? 
 

We have a crisis of unsheltered homelessness. The metro area is at a historic high number ofMinnesotans sleeping outside, including in the brutal Minnesota winters. We need to invest in shelter and the permanent housing options that people need. And, we need to stop criminalizing homelessness. Shelter saves lives, but housing ends homelessness. While we work to build and grow the housing stock to ensure every Minnesotan has a place to call home - we must also provide crisis response to those sleeping outside.

Homelessness is complex, but our public systems are fundamental in both the driving causes, and ultimately, the ultimate solution to homelessness. We need to meet people where they are at and create a pathway to permanent housing by increasing the amount of deeply affordable housing, and ensure an appropriate level of effective and culturally-specific support services are available and supported through sufficient public investment. I commend the State for investing$26 million dollars in emergency shelter earlier this year as part of the COVID response.However, ongoing base funding for this program (Emergency Services Program via DHS) is less than $1 million dollars per year, which is simply unacceptable.

I support the Homes for All legislative priority of at least $15 million in ongoing funding for theEmergency Services Program through DHS. I will work with elected leaders, from the Governor and Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, to our state legislative delegation, andCounty Commissioners like Angela Conley, who is bringing transformative attention and leadership to this issue.. Locally, I’ll work with the city council and the park board on this issue -because none of us can do it alone, and it will absolutely take all of us.

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? 

 

Over 500,000 Minnesotans live in households struggling every month to pay their rent. One financial crisis – a hospital visit or the car breaking down – could tip them over the edge and into eviction. And that was all before the economic fallout from the ripple effects of COVID-19.I applaud the executive order from Governor Walz in March instating a moratorium on evictions as part of his emergency response measures. On September 1st, the federal CDC announced its own eviction moratorium to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is clear proof that this is not only a housing justice issue, but a public health strategy in the midst of a pandemic. I strongly support a continuation of the moratorium until we have emerged from the economic impact that is still unfolding.

As the federal and state government considers future COVID relief packages, we must work to ensure renters experiencing loss of income or other economic hardship due to the pandemic not only have evictions delayed through the moratorium, but ultimately prevented from ever occurring. Low-wage workers and others impacted by the significant impact of this pandemic on our economy must be at the very center of our relief design and intervention efforts. Beyond what would be an obvious failing of the basic moral test of government to sit by and allow such a vast number of evictions to occur, it is also simply not in our economic interest as a state.Minnesotans are at our resilient best when we come together when our backs are to the wall.For Minnesotans fighting everyday to maintain their housing in a pandemic, the last thing we can allow to happen to take away one of the only things holding them up - the very walls of the home in which they live. 

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?

First, we must understand the history of racist public policy and discriminatory practices at all levels of government that have contributed to this unacceptable homeownership gap. Right herein our district, racial covenants in home deeds, redlining practices, inability to fully leverage tools such as the G.I. bill, and even the decision around the path through south Minneapolis that 35W would be built.

Housing is a protected area under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. This means that “ Property owners, managing agents, financial institutions with real property interest, and real estate brokers may not because of a protected class reason:
  • Deny loans or offer less favorable terms and conditions to applicants
  • Refuse to rent an apartment
  • Refuse to make necessary repairs to a rental unit
  • Refuse to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability
  • Evict a tenant
As a Minnesotan and a civil rights attorney, it is important to me that we uphold both the spirit and the letter of these legal protections.
 
In addition to putting real teeth behind ending discrimination in housing, we must also advance strategies to tackle the economic realities and lack of public investment that is our current reality. We need to start by reducing the cost-burden on BIPOC communities by investing in greatly expanded rental assistance for families, working to expand and preserve affordable housing, and both protect and empower tenants. We also need to decrease the home-ownership gap between BIPOC and white Minnesotans by investing in programs that increase home-ownership among communities of color.

 

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 the Homes for All Coalition legislative priority of $500 million dollars in affordable housing bonds. That would be 5x higher than the historic high state investment. It’s past time to significantly increase housing affordable housing stock across the State. It’s time to go big, in order to bring all Minnesotans home.
 
While the State does not own or operate public housing, it does have a mechanism to invest in sorely needed rehab work in public housing through bonding bills. This is a responsible, smart, and cost effective way for the state to partner with public housing authorities to ensure they’re up to code and provide the safe, dignified home Minnesotans deserve.
 
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?
 
I believe we need to improve health by strengthening community investment. I support using funds from Medicaid and the state-federal health insurance program to pay for a wide range of housing related services for folks at risk of becoming houseless.

I would also seek to work closely with MN Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho, who has a long track-record of both local and national leadership at the intersection of housing and health care.We have everything that it takes to lead the country at this nexus of housing and healthcare.

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? 
 
The dream of owning a home connects both economic stability and the deep emotional connection so many feel to their home. We must pursue all responsible and feasible avenues to ensure that those who want to own their own home can see a real pathway to achieving that dream.
 
The path to homeownership can take many directions - with each coming with their own particular social, economic, legal, and community impacts. Our solutions should be rooted inequity, accessibility and the experiences of communities of color and low-income Minnesotans. I am eager to work with you on solutions and to listen and learn from statewide experts in this field and those Minnesotans seeking to transition from renting to home ownership.
 
8: Including community recommendations when developing policies and programs is a best practice for effective and lasting solutions. How will you include those impacted by housing needs in developing and implementing housing solutions? 
 
I believe deeply in the implementation of a co-governance structure to engage the voices and perspectives of those who are most impacted by our systems and structures. By partnering with organizations, community leaders, and neighbors, we can work to craft policy that meets people where they are at, and supports their hard work and vision for their future through responsive public policy.
 
Organizing both inside and outside the Capitol is an essential piece in this fight to ensure priorities center equity and fairness for every Minnesotan, no exceptions. As an organizer on the Wellstone campaign, I learned quickly that it takes all of us to work towards a solution. I will welcome the opportunity to work with housing stakeholders who have authentic, grassroots connections to people directly impacted to listen and learn directly from those who would be most impacted.