From the Field: Minnesota Advocates Celebrate $90 Million in New Housing Bonds

The Minnesota State Legislature adjourned at the end of May, but not before passing a bonding bill that will provide $90 million in new funding to expand the supply of safe, decent, accessible, and affordable homes throughout the state. The bill includes $80 million for housing infrastructure bonds (HIB), $30 million of which is to be used for the development of permanently supportive housing (PSH). An additional $10 million in general obligation bonds will be used to rehabilitate existing public housing. The victory is the result of ongoing organizing and advocacy led by the Homes for All MN campaign, in which NLIHC state partners Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless and Minnesota Housing Partnership play a prominent role. 

In addition to the $90 million in new housing bonds, $30 million of bond revenue will be devoted to mental-health crisis centers. Addressing the needs of people with mental and behavioral health issues was another priority for Homes for All MN, and the coalition was instrumental in securing the additional allocation. Achieving a total of $120 million in bond commitments in 2018, combined with the $77 million won in 2017 for a total of $197 million in new investments, reflects a historic two-year achievement for housing advocates. The final 2018 funding commitment comes close to the Homes for All MN initial ask of $140 million.

Several new eligible uses for HIBs are included in the new legislation, including senior housing and manufactured home parks. According to Homes for All MN, more than half all senior renters in Minnesota are cost-burdened, paying more than 50% of their incomes for rent. The senior renter population is expected to nearly double by 2035.

Apart from the bonding victories, Homes for All MN was unsuccessful in getting its other requests included in a supplemental budget bill ultimately vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton (D) after his office could not reach a compromise with the legislature. Mr. Dayton also vetoed a tax reform bill passed by the legislature, and in so doing, preserved the state’s renters credit.

“We are so grateful for the hard work of advocates who support Homes for All,” said Senta Leff, executive director at Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. “Investing in housing works for Minnesota families, and we look forward to more progress in 2019.”

For more information about Homes for All MN and the recent bonding bill victories, contact Fatima Moore, director of public policy for Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, at: fatima@mnhomelesscoalition.org