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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL)

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Housing Assistance Now

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Dear community,


For many, the scariest part about the COVID-19 crisis is how quickly it is laying bare the structural flaws in our society. My constituents in South Minneapolis, who are largely renters (84 percent) were already facing a housing crisis before this virus came along. Vacancy rates in Minneapolis are incredibly low, which means that rents are too high and finding an affordable home is an arduous task. We were well aware of this crisis, we were committed to taking action to start solving it this session knowing full well that many of us were only one personal crisis away from a complete disaster. 


Well, now that crisis has arrived, and when it comes to housing, we aren’t the least bit prepared. I want to thank Governor Walz for signing an executive order halting evictions and foreclosures. But we need to go a lot further if we are to avoid a housing crisis the likes of which this generation has never seen. My colleagues and I are fighting for a bill that will provide $100 million in housing assistance across Minnesota along with strengthening the Governor’s executive order. With so many of us out of work the bills are piling up, coupled with Republican disinterest in providing robust housing assistance, and you have a recipe for disaster. 


Government has a responsibility to care for all its people. Having adequate housing is a crucial step to follow the Shelter in Place order and to keep everyone safe. When the peacetime emergency ends, bills will come due, but without housing assistance the bills will go unpaid. Minneapolis should be commended for its efforts to provide rental assistance, but the city simply does not have the means to solve this coming disaster on its own. If we do not pass this landmark housing assistance bill this session the racial and economic disparities in Minnesota will be laid bare, leading to a massive increase in homelessness across the city and the state. 


If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think that $100 million is too expensive, imagine the cost of thousands of Minnesotans losing their homes. Homelessness is far more expensive than simply paying for someone to have a place to live until they get back on their feet. Couple this with the negative impact homelessness has on children's education and we will be faced with a great leap backwards for an entire generation, exacerbated by current racial and socio-economic divisions. The cost of doing nothing is far greater than $100 million. Even the Multi Housing Association, who are typically a rival on renter’s rights issues, support this bill, recognizing that if all renters fail, they fail, too. 


It will take a long time for the economy to recover, and even when it does it will be a ghost of its former self with many jobs lost permanently. The economy will not save us, but we have the power and the responsibility to take action this session to ensure that this terrible crisis is not followed by an equally devastating second economic crisis.


If you are currently experiencing problems with your landlord threatening to evict you during this peacetime emergency, I encourage you to reach out to the Attorney General's Office, where they are taking action against such landlords. You can find the Attorney General's Office here.


Keep in touch

If you have friends, neighbors, or co-workers who might be interested in subscribing to this newsletter, they can do so here, and follow me on Facebook here. I’m grateful for the honor of serving you and our community. Please, now more than ever, feel free to reach out to my office.

Rep. Hodan Hassan,
531 State Office Building
(651) 296-0294