Minnesota Votes for Housing 2020

Candidate responses in italics.

Name: Jay Xiong

City/Town: St. Paul

Legislative District: 67B

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?

As a child of refugee immigrants who was born and raised in public housing and lost his first home to foreclosure and experienced homelessness, it is a priority for me -- that's why I ran for public office and have championed legislation to ensure we have a holistic approach to address 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? 

Housing insecurity and homelessness have been greater issues since the 2008 recession. We have seen homelessness and housing insecurity go from the urban core to the suburbs and rural areas. I understand that although I represent the east side of St. Paul, I am a voice for all Minnesotans because our policies affect the whole state. All 87 counties expect us to work hard for them. That’s how I have always seen my role. And I will continue to fight for resources to help our state, our governor, counties and nonprofit sector address the issues of homelessness. I will continue to build strong partnerships with county Continuum of Care institutions, build relations with the local churches and nonprofits which serve all people, and fight hard to ensure we pass laws which address issues of deep rooted systematic poverty and economic inequality, which lie at the heart of homelessness.

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?

We are fortunate that we have such a great ally in the Governor’s office whose policies in this pandemic I fully support. Governor Walz has used federal CARES Act funding to help Minnesotans pay their mortgage and rents. If we had cooperative colleagues in the Senate, we could do something similar in the legislature. My House colleagues have pushed for emergency services grants to provide essential services to homeless people. Sadly, our counterparts in the Senate do not have the same priorities. But that doesn’t mean we stop. I will always keep fighting to support people who have the least resources among us.

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 must confront the hard truths of this country’s history to address the issues from the core. Redlining, racial covenants on deeds, predatory lending practices targeted to communities of color, and abject discrimination and violence chased people of color in and out of certain neighborhoods. We must root out, rebuild, unlearn and re-do systems which have been founded on oppression. The GI bill was supposed to give returning American GIs of all races the great American Dream, the first home and a college degree. But we know that its administration was racist, slanted against blacks, and a home is one of the greatest single determining wealth measures and inheritances one family can pass on, generation after generation. This is why I was proud to support my colleagues this month during our September special session on two bills. One, (HF 4027/SF 3801) would expand use of the Housing Infrastructure Bond to finance construction of single- family homes. The other (HF 884/SF 942) would capture a portion of mortgage and deed tax to fund affordable ownership. I will continue to fight, going forward, to increase access for Black, Indigenous and communities of color when making policy and funding decisions regarding affordable homeownership preparation, production and preservation. We need to pass a meanginful and robust bonding bill which addresses so many of these issues.
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 need to get things done, and we cannot do it alone. This is why we need to build coalitions across all policy circles and build relationships before we need them. I have always been a coalition builder and that’s what I think is an important skill to have. That’s why I know we need to support the great work of state boards such as the Housing Task Force, the Interagency Council on Homelessness, county boards, local officials, and a very important team player in our region, the Metropolitan Council. Their Regional HRA is an important ally and resource in our region and our state. As the state’s regional metropolitan planning organization, they are often forgotten as an integral piece of the housing puzzle. I will continue to be a team player on this issue, and build collaborations and hold tables among developers, nonprofits, providers and local leaders with the goal of developing creative solutions for housing populations that have experienced homelessness.
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 want to continue to support the local and regional HRAs as mentioned. They play a crucial role in ensuring people have choices and options when looking for location-based housing services. I want to work with nonprofits who deliver direct services and impact housing most directly. I want to cooperate with local leaders on how we can address, find, hold and build affordable housing in a way which addresses their local needs in a way which fulfills and respects the people’s needs and choices. In addition to this, I remain a loyal and determined partner to help fight for bills which will continue to build and maintain our systems of fostering more housing infrastructure which addresses the needs of housing in all 87 counties.
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?
I want to support policies and set tables to have partnership collaborations with organizations that are developing targeted strategies to catalyze homeownership growth for current and future creditworthy millennials will help build the next generation of homeowners. We have leverage and use federal down payment assistance programs to increase mortgage affordability would benefit many more households eligible for down payment assistance. Creating new financial products for low-cost markets will help younger, lower income families compete in the market and facilitate their transition from renting to owning. If we build more housing in undersupplied areas and preserving existing affordable housing will help drive prices down, reduce the housing cost burden, and make homeownership more affordable.
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? 

We must work with all stakeholders and continue leveraging proven models for financial coaching and credit building can make financial products more accessible for a population that is increasingly invested in building good credit. We must support and implementing asset-building programs like the Family Self-Sufficiency program, automatic savings in retirement plans, subsidies to promote emergency savings, and universal children’s savings accounts can help build a stable financial foundation for potential homeowners. We must work across the board in expanding career pathways for lower and medium income workers through postsecondary education and workforce training will get more Hispanic workers into higher-paying jobs