ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Weeks after the Biden administration announced new efforts to curb homelessness, Minnesota's top political leaders promised Wednesday to “bring it home” on legislation that would expand affordable housing.
“Not only is this the morally right thing to do — our economic future depends on us getting this right,” Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said to a roaring crowd at the state Capitol, where hundreds were gathered to support a bill that would expand rental assistance to people with low incomes.
It’s one of many affordable housing proposals that lawmakers will consider passing in the coming months, Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, of Minneapolis, told The Associated Press in an interview after speaking at the rally.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, told the crowd that Democrats are making affordable housing a top priority in the House.
With support from the House, Senate and governor's office — all of which Democrats won in November for the first time in eight years — affordable housing bills in Minnesota may face fewer roadblocks to passage than before.
The state has one of the worst racial and ethnic homeownership gaps in the country, according to the the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 2021.
And in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, Black families own homes at less than one-third the rate of white families, according to the Urban Institute in 2021. That was the largest gap in the nation.
President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new push to reduce homelessness in December, as a federal survey found about 582,000 people were without housing last year. The initiative seeks to drive the count down by 25% by 2025 through efforts to house people who are homeless and prevent others from losing their homes in the first place.
In January, governors in Washington, California, New York and Oregon also unveiled multibillion-dollar plans to mitigate the affordable housing crisis in their states.
Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15