DFL announces housing cost reduction, home creation package

As more and more families are paying more than they can afford to keep a roof over their heads, Minnesota legislators are proposing a package they hope will reduce costs, while also spurring the development of new homes. 

On Wednesday DFL House Representatives introduced a package of $400 million in investments that would aim to lower costs for renters, provide pathways to homeownership and build more homes while improving affordable housing. In turn the measures would further provide housing security for all Minnesotans.

Legislators are also proposing immediate assistance through reopening RentHelpMN.

"There are few things more important in life than having a safe place to call home," Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-Falcon Heights) said in a statement. "The projected positive budget balance offers a once in a generation opportunity to invest in Minnesotans. A stable place to live means everyone can start off life with an equal chance to thrive."

Legislators in favor of the proposals contend the current state budget surplus makes this session a prime opportunity to help those in need. 

According to the announcement, the $400 million total investment would provide rental assistance to an estimated 49,275 households. Another $100 million would provide additional pathways to first-time home buyers through down payment assistance for an estimated 3,000 households.

Another $250 million would be dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating 3,000 naturally occurring affordable homes, and modernizing 1,000 units of public housing through General Obligation Bonds.

The housing creation portion of the proposed package would include $600 million to create an estimated 5,500 new units by utilizing Housing Infrastructure Bonds, housing-based tax aid, and investing in previously established programs such as Minnesota Challenge, and the Workforce Home Ownership program.

"We understand that Minnesotans are seeing our economy recover, but aren’t sharing in the growth they are helping create," said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler in a statement. "Reducing the cost of major expenses like housing will help families cover the essentials like gas and groceries. Democrats call on Republicans to join us in lowering costs instead of prioritizing tax cuts for big corporations making record profits." 

The American Rescue Plan Act would provide $300 million in emergency rental and landlord assistance through June 1, 2022, as part of the re-opening of RentHelpMN.

The plan also includes $75 million in statewide shelter capital to provide more options for safe housing for those experiencing homelessness, and an additional $75 million for resources to help strengthen services that provide pathways to stable housing.