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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Minnesota House approves Housing Budget Conference Committee Report

Monday, May 8, 2023

St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House approved the conference committee report on House File 2335, the state’s Housing Budget. The report, authored in the House by Housing Committee Chair Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), makes $1 billion in investments, our state’s most significant commitment to addressing our housing crisis in state history. In doing so, the legislature will create housing stability for Minnesota families on the brink of homelessness through new state-based housing vouchers, spur the production of new homes across the state, and deliver pathways to homeownership for thousands of Minnesotans.

The conference committee report passed on a vote of 70-61.

“This is a home run of a housing bill, and it will mean that thousands more Minnesotans will have a better shot at opening a door to their own home – one that gives them the economic security to succeed and thrive,” said Howard. “Just a few years ago it would be unfathomable to think of the legislature making an investment in housing that begins with a ‘B,’ but thanks to the advocacy of Minnesotans across the state we are ready to make history.”  

The budget makes our state’s most significant commitment to end family and child homelessness through creation of state-based rental vouchers. This innovative form of housing assistance will create housing stability for 5,000 low-income Minnesota families all across the state. 

“All Minnesotans deserve a safe and affordable place that they can call home,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The Housing Budget delivers the largest investment in housing in state history. We’re investing $1 billion of the state’s budget surplus to help ensure more Minnesotans have a safe home where they can lay their heads down to sleep each night. This bill includes both rental assistance and first-time homebuyer assistance, which will help build generational wealth and help to close Minnesota’s unacceptable equity gaps in homeownership. A safe home is critical in all parts of our lives.”

The budget addresses our state’s significant housing supply/demand mismatch through the production of thousands of new homes. Using both existing and innovative new funding streams, the budget will help spur the creation of new affordable homes, from deeply affordable rental units to homes for Minnesotans to own.

“Minnesota is in the midst of a housing crisis that cannot be solved by one-time band-aids, and that’s why the House DFL supports ongoing, dedicated funding for safe, stable, and affordable housing for the people who need it most,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “In a state as prosperous as ours, no one should have to face the trauma of being unhoused. This housing budget is an important part of making Minnesota the best state for children and families, and I’m grateful to Chair Howard and Vice Chair Agbaje for putting together this visionary bill.” 

In addition, the legislature is pursuing the state’s most ambitious agenda to create pathways to homeownership and addressing our state’s racial home ownership gap. The budget includes an innovative first generation down payment assistance program that will create 4,000 new homeowners.

“Housing is fundamental for all Minnesotans and should be a human right,” said Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL - Minneapolis), Vice Chair of the Housing Committee, who also served on the conference committee. “Housing stability provides families with the opportunity to obtain jobs that provide better incomes and supports the ability to save and start the path to homeownership. Decent, affordable housing fulfills a basic human need for shelter. It is vital Minnesota families have access to affordable housing to improve both their physical and mental health. For parents, living in decent, affordable housing also means reduced stress due to a lessening of concerns that high housing costs will lead to foreclosure and eviction; this in turn leads to fewer parents leaving the workforce. Making this overdue investment into the housing sector will provide families with the relief they deserve and the chance to look forward to a future where their families are warm, safe, and sheltered.”

The budget dedicates $35 million to level the playing field for residents of manufactured and modular home parks who own their units but are still housing insecure because they don’t own the land that their units sit on. These investments will help them with repairs and give them access to affordable loans so they can form cooperatives and buy their parks.

DFLers also invested$10 million for retrofitting residential high-rise buildings with sprinklers. The families of those who died in the 2019 fire at Cedar Riverside have waited too long for the state to step up and make sure such tragedies never happen again. This investment, along with $4 million in lead safe homes, will save lives. 

To ensure long-term, predictable sources of funding for the needs of metro counties and communities, the Housing budget includes a .25% metro-wide sales tax increase, giving the region the flexibility to spend the revenue it generates in ways that meet their own unique housing challenges. 

Video of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube page