Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Jessica Hanson

City/Town: Burnsville

Legislative District: 56A

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?

I believe it is a core government responsibility to ensure everyone has access to housing. My undergraduate degree is in social work, and I prescribe to the belief that housing must be the first and most important need we help Minnesotans meet.

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? 

Housing first has to be a priority. People who are living unsheltered and/or experiencing homelessness are often experiencing intersectional barriers, so we must first enter this discussion with the intention to help people get housing so that they can address other barriers.

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?

During covid, all evictions must be on a moratorium. Additionally, I think there should be increased requirements for landlords to abide by before an eviction can come to fruition. I also support deterrents that discourage landlords from evicting tenants for biased or discriminatory practices. I also believe we need to increase the number of eviction support services for people who have been evicted and/or are facing eviction.

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?
We need to start by establishing that racism is a public health issue in MN so that we can adequately address the history of racism in MN housing practices, reconcile and repair it, and build a better future going forward. We need to also hold CEOs of mortgage companies like Wells Fargo accountable when they operate with glaring racial bias. I support mandating audits of mortgage companies to idenfity patterns of racism in their lending practices. We know this is happening, and it is due time we held the powers that be accountable.
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?
Increase the number of mixed zone properties that will allow affordable housing, increase opportunities for tiny homes, expanding first time home buyer programs, and advocate for city codes that intentionally limit the affordability of homes to be restricted.
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?
Agreeing that housing first is a priority would be a step in the right direction. People who have a home to sleep in often experience less health issues. Working with children and adults to identify their barriers to housing is the first step to improving health. Ensuring that folks who are experiencing homelessness and/or unstable housing ought to be eligible for additional health care services that will immediately address their most invasive barriers to health will help get treatment plans and other supportive services in place shortly after housing is secured.
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?
Support programs like first time home buyers programs as well as incentivizing and empowering renters to become homeowners. Additionally, we need to establish that racism is a public health issue in MN so that we can adequately address the history of racism in MN housing practices, reconcile and repair it, and build a better future going forward.
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? 

I believe the solutions to problems facing a community are often among the minds of those experiencing them. I will always listen to people who are directly impacted by an issue to ensure their voice is empowered from my office or in the halls of the capital to the committee tables and house floor. I believe it is my job to amplify the voices of my community and those on the frontline of systemic problems, so I will always listen and be guided by them above all else.