Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Gary Porter

City/Town: Plymouth

Legislative District: 44B

Party: R

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?

This is a tough question to answer especially since we are in a bad environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid is putting great strain on the revenues that government can expect to receive, at the same time because of the economic strain it is causing the rate of homelessness is growing. In the short term the government must act to make sure the homeless are taken care off. In the long term there are many things government can do to help solve this issue. Making sure that we get rid of needless regulations that are causing the cost of house to increase. Providing a subsidy to help low income workers afford housing. To name just a few.

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 think we need to provide tax credits to encourage developers to build low income housing and apartments. In addition, the state and local governments along with private non-profits must work to provide temporary shelter for those who are in need.

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 think we need to extend the moratorium on evictions until Covid-19 is under control. At the same time, we have work to protect landowners so they also do not lose their property because they cannot meet their obligations.

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?
In the long term the key is making sure those in the black community get a good education. Today we have a significant gap between the low-income school districts and the wealthy. As the education gap continues to grow so to does the housing gap continue to grow for minorities. If we want to close the housing gap, Minnesota must guarantee an excellent education for every student. This is the only way every citizen of Minnesota will have a chance at the American Dream of home ownership. 
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?
In the short term we need to continue to eviction moratorium, so we do not aggregate the problem more. For the long term we need to bring together a coalition of business leaders, advocates for the homeless and legislators to come up with solutions to bring an end to the homeless problem in Minnesota.
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?
Obviously if people are living in good housing instead of on the street, they are going to be healthier, especially during these times of the Covid-19 pandemic. Another area I think we need to look at is supportive housing that provides job training, life skills training, alcohol and substance treatment, supportive support for such things a childcare. This would pay for itself in fact people would be healthier and thus be less of a burden on our health care facilities. We see a reduction in violent crime and thus less need for prison expansion.
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?
What I suggest is a long-term solution. The only way people can move to home ownership is by being provided an excellent education, so they are qualified for good paying jobs. Every immigrant group has prospered in this country because their first goal was to get an excellent education for their children. If we are going to provide the opportunities of home ownership, then it is a necessity that Minnesota guarantee every child an excellent education.
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? 

One Legislator cannot solve this problem. It is going to take a large grassroots movement to get this accomplished. Unless the Legislature sees that large numbers of people care about this issue there will not be the kind of action we seek. That means letter writing and filling committee rooms with grass roots supporters. My role as a legislator would be to add a strong voice and leadership to the grassroots to push for the solutions to solve the homeless problem in Minnesota.