Governor's Housing Task Force calls for more affordable housing

Governor Mark Dayton’s Task Force on Housing made sweeping recommendations in a press conference Tuesday to provide more affordable housing across the state.

The Governor’s Office says more than half a million Minnesotans are struggling to afford a quality home. Among the goals are working with private developers to build more homes and to lower the costs.

Across the Twin Cities, apartments and homes are rising from once-neglected street corners, but the governor’s Task Force concludes they’re not going up fast enough.

“It really calls for everyone, all sectors to join together to actually build more housing,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal.

In fact, the Task Force is calling on the state to explore incentives to help private developers build 300,000 new homes by 2030. It calls for a short-term ramp-up of an additional 50,000 homes or at least 10,000 above current levels in each of the next five years.

Another goal of the Task Force is to increase home stability. One is example is the Hanover Townhomes in St. Paul, where about a year ago they renovated the apartments with the goal of keeping them affordable. However, the Task Force says similar projects need to happen across the state. The group expects to lose another 2,000 affordable homes statewide this year because they were either sold or renovated to the point where the rents will increase. That’s why the Task Force also recommends expanding the state’s rental assistance program and strengthening protections for renters.

“Cracking down on predatory rental practices because we know the devastating effect on evictions that it has on families,” said Terri Thoa of Nexus Community Partners.

The governor acknowledges it will take both the state and the private sector working together to break down barriers that may be preventing more investments in building and preserving homes.

“If you look at them as investments for the future, that if people don’t have a good place to live, they’re not going to stay here or be here and they’re not going to be available to build our economy and build our society,” said Dayton.  

Among some of the other recommendations of the Task Force are positioning Minnesota builders as leaders in innovations and technologies that reduce building costs as well as building the pool of talent in the trades so there are a enough skilled workers to build these homes.