Revitalizing Minnesota: A Call for Statewide Land-Use and Zoning Reforms

Between August and October of 2023, Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) and Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota (Habitat MN) convened a diverse group of stakeholders to inform the policy recommendations for Minnesota’s land-use and zoning policies. These recommendations are outlined in this report. 

“Minnesotans want to live in a thriving community where everyone has an affordable place to live. Yet today our state needs to create more than 100,000 new homes to support our growing economy and families. Bold investments have been committed by state and local leaders and now we need policies that will allow our communities to create these new homes, that will remove regulatory barriers and reduce costs. Outdated land use policies and processes are limiting our ability to ensure that Minnesotans of all incomes have a place they can afford with strong schools and good jobs. We have an opportunity to do what other states across the country have already done to grow the supply of housing and bring housing costs within reach of Minnesotans.”

Anne Mavity, MHP Executive Director

In Revitalizing Minnesota, MHP and Habitat Minnesota outline their conclusions that:

1) Minnesota’s land-use and zoning policies are dated and contribute to today’s housing disparities; 2) Allowing for more homes to be built is essential to thriving lives and communities; and 3) Land-use and zoning reform must intentionally enable, incentivize, and expedite the creation of more missing middle and affordable homes.

Cristen Incitti, President and CEO of Habitat Minnesota says, “Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota is committed to advocating for racially equitable housing policy. We are motivated by a recognition of our collective responsibility, and the government’s responsibility, to undo the harmful effects of past and present land use policies that disadvantage Black, Indigenous and people of color. Paired with Minnesota’s historic investment in housing in 2023 and ongoing investments in home affordability, this is an opportunity to significantly increase the supply of housing and the ability of Minnesotans across the state to access to safe, stable, and affordable homes.”

The workgroup’s recommendations include allowing more homes on lots currently zoned for single-family, allow multifamily by-right in more areas, enact processes that balance the need for future growth and current residents, and incentivize affordable homes as part of allowing more flexibility and creativity in land use.

As Ben Horowitz, senior policy analyst at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve wrote in their November 2023 report, “Better land use and planning policies will reduce housing production costs. Economic theory, research, and anecdotal evidence predict that the resulting increase in supply would slow the growth of housing prices.” In 2023, the Minnesota legislature invested unprecedented funding in affordable and workforce housing. These investments can be maximized by eliminating restrictive growth policies and allowing more diverse housing options. Revitalizing Minnesota concludes that now is the moment for the Minnesota legislature to adopt and enforce modernized statewide land-use and zoning laws.