Gov. Mark Dayton’s Task Force on Housing issued a comprehensive final report Tuesday, August 21, 2018, including 30 recommendations intended to achieve six goals to help sustain and improve access to affordable housing in Minnesota. The report relied on input from local employers, builders, renters and housing experts—including Winthrop & Weinstine attorney Jeff Koerselman, and a number of representatives from clients of Winthrop—to better understand the pain points and potential solutions that can help solve Minnesota’s housing crisis.
According to the report, more than 25 percent of all Minnesotans struggle to find affordable housing. In just the last year, the report noted home prices in Minnesota have risen 8.9 percent, while rents have increased 4.1 percent. Guided by these recommendations, the Task Force hopes to build 300,000 new affordable homes by 2030 to stabilize housing prices and alleviate the growing cost burden.
“Implementation of these recommendations will create much-needed affordable housing opportunities for Winthrop & Weinstine clients and others in the affordable housing industry,” Koerselman said of the Task Force’s report. “None of these individually are going to solve the problem, but collectively, they could make a noticeable difference, especially if similar measures are undertaken at the federal and local levels of government.”
In its report, the Task Force indicated the state must do a better job of prioritizing and supporting affordable housing projects—particularly focusing on increasing housing production over the next five years. A stronger alliance between public and private partners to better monitor housing demand, combined with the creation of a dedicated funding source for new affordable housing was cited as one critical way to help spur development. The report also recommended creating a statewide review panel to evaluate the potential benefits of reducing regulations on builders and developers to help drive down rental prices.
In addition to new home building, the report noted that regular maintenance of existing affordable housing is an important, low-cost way to increase the percentage of affordable properties on the market. Partnering with the right developers—ones who are committed to maintaining affordable rental units after renovation—can help halt the loss of roughly 2,000 naturally occurring affordable rental units that are updated and rented at higher price points each year.
Finally, the report called for greater resources to help homeowners and renters stay in their homes longer and avoid evictions and displacements. Expanding rental assistance plans, cracking down on predatory rental practices and increasing access to other social services are a few ways the Task Force suggests the state can help create more stable living environments for cost-burdened individuals and families.
For a closer look at each of the report’s six goals and all of its recommendations, you can read the whole report here.