Affordable Housing Initiatives Could Mitigate Minnesota’s Affordability Issue
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked communities across the nation, Minnesota was facing its greatest housing shortage in decades. Homelessness had been on the rise for years, and inequity in homeownership across racial lines was yawning. In a state where consumer spending drives nearly 70% of the economy, stay-at-home measures and unemployment rates as a result of the pandemic only exacerbated these issues.
Now, leaders are turning to affordable housing to address inequity and help solve Minnesota’s housing crisis. Effective affordable housing initiatives can help reduce instances of homelessness, increase stability, and bolster residents’ quality of life. Historically, however, these programs have lacked support from local lawmakers and citizens alike. These complex problems will require complex solutions, starting with an understanding of the issues and a reckoning of each side.
Minnesota’s Housing Crisis
Minnesota renters and homeseekers have long struggled with affordability, and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the issue. A rapidly rising number of households continue to struggle with job and income loss, and subsequently face evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness. Amid rising home prices, it’s imperative to prioritize affordable housing, especially for the most vulnerable Minnesotans.
Nearly half of Twin City households cannot afford newly constructed apartments, and the rate of homeownership among families of color is roughly half the rate of their white counterparts. This inequity has real, measurable consequences. Without access to secure and affordable housing, thousands of Minnesotans lose out on opportunity and stability.
The Affordable Housing Debate
Despite the profound benefits of affordable housing, similar initiatives have been met with pushback from local lawmakers and citizens alike. Concerns surrounding over-regulated markets and even fear of increased instances of crime can seriously stall progress.
The good news is that there are many potential paths forward. From rent control to novel ordinances and beyond, we can find the right solution to Minnesota’s affordability crisis. One big step forward came in November 2020, when Minnesota state legislators passed a Bonding Bill to support building more affordable housing, maintaining existing public housing, and preserving affordability. This bill has the potential to seriously mitigate some of Minnesota’s affordability issues, but solving this kind of complex problem requires attention and energy from all of us. Take some time to explore local issues, determine what resonates with you, and speak with your representatives. Thousands of Minnesotans could use your help in securing a home!
If you or someone you know is struggling with affordability, visit the Minnesota Department of Human Services website. Here you’ll find resources, programs and services, and help finding and keeping housing.
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