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Supplemental housing bill proposes $10 million in new funding

A 2-year-old provided a moment of levity amidst an otherwise serious matter of reviewing the supplemental housing budget bill Tuesday.

His mother, Shylah Johnson of Duluth, testified in support of HF4194 while alternating between breastfeeding him and keeping him from grabbing her speaking notes. Eventually Rep. Jim Nash (R- Waconia) helped by providing the toddler with additional pieces of paper to grab and crumple.

Johnson said her landlord increased her rent because she received financial assistance for her college tuition.

“Therefore, I support the housing stability act because many single mothers like me are trying to improve our life by receiving funding to go to college,” she told the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield), the bill, as amended, would appropriate $10 million in supplemental fiscal year 2025 spending, with nearly all going to the Family Homelessness Prevention Assistance Program for emergency rental assistance, rapid rehousing, and homeless prevention.

Another goal is to help Minnesotans living in aging housing that is operated by nonprofit providers, but who face rising costs for things like insurance and rehab needs.

“We’ve redeployed about $50 million of resources that we passed last year and created a grant program designed to stabilize affordable housing for as many Minnesotans as we can by focusing those investments on distressed properties that otherwise could be at risk of foreclosure, sale, displacing Minnesotans who literally would have no other place to go,” Howard said.

Amendments are scheduled to be addressed by the committee, and the bill voted on Wednesday.

“This bill’s emphasis is a focus on housing stability, grounded in the notion that without housing, nothing else in our lives are going to go right,” Howard said. “We are really focused on the crises that Minnesotans are facing to do all that we can.”

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Howard said the committee took important steps last year to prevent homelessness and create a state-based voucher system for the first time. It also made historic investments to promote home ownership through first-downpayment programs. The much smaller supplemental budget amount for 2025 should be viewed through this context, he added.

The bill would also spend:

  • $270,000 for Expediting Rental Assistance Workgroup recommendations for improving application approval times for the family homelessness prevention and assistance program, the emergency assistance program, and emergency general assistance implementation provisions;
  • $200,000 for the creation of a working group to study covenants of home ownership associations and common interest communities; and
  • $100,000 on a grant to the Wilder Foundation for a Minnesota homeless study.

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