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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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House Capital Investment Committee holds hearing on Minnesota’s Housing Crisis

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

St. Paul, MN - Today, the House Capital Investment Committee held a hearing on Minnesota’s housing crisis and the role of Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIB) and general obligation (GO) bonds. The committee, chaired by Rep. Fue Lee (DFL - Minneapolis), was joined by members of the Housing Finance and Policy Committee and the Preventing Homelessness Division, chaired by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL - St. Paul) and Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL - Minneapolis), respectively. 

“My family came to the United States after living in a refugee camp and found our first home through Minneapolis Public Housing,” said Rep. Lee. “This experience has shaped my view that the basis for a healthy and productive life is grounded in access to a safe and secure home. All Minnesotans deserve a roof over their heads, and we’ll better reach that goal by robustly investing in the bonding options available to us.”

Housing Infrastructure Bonds are a Minnesota innovation, largely created to respond to the fact that 95% of the housing in the state is privately owned. State GO bonds are limited to public ownership. Since their creation in 2012, HIBs have become the largest state source of capital for housing development, with a total of over $400 million in HIBs being used to leverage $775 million in total development costs. This has resulted in over 4,700 housing units being created or preserved. 

“Housing security is fundamental all year, but especially in the middle of winter and during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many are unemployed.” said Rep. Hausman. “This morning, housing professionals spoke about past funding efforts and the continuing need as we work to give more Minnesotans the stable, safe housing they need to thrive and succeed.”

Members heard testimony from housing officials, experts, and advocates, including Jennifer Ho, Commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; Lee Blons, CEO and President of Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative; Chad Adams, CEO of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership; Diane Larson, Executive Director of Itasca County and Grand Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authorities (HRAs); Jennifer Keogh, Deputy Executive Director of Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA); Tamir Mohamud, MPHA Commissioner; Buffy Beranek, Executive Director of SE MN Multi-County HRA; and Sandie Hayes, a resident of St. Peter.

“State investment in housing comprises less than 1% of our budget which doesn’t reflect just how important housing is in creating stable lives where people can thrive. Housing is essential infrastructure and a public good,” said Rep. Gomez. “We need to use our bonding capacity to maintain and build deeply affordable housing with supportive services and especially Public Housing. With so many in our communities experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity we must prioritize these investments as we develop future bonding bills.”

Presentation slides and other supporting materials are available on the committee’s webpage. Video recording of today’s hearing will be made available on the House Public Information YouTube channel