Advocacy Update – October 2019

Policy Council Retreat: In October, LA-MN Policy Council members gathered at St. Johns Abbey in the center of the state, to spend almost 24 hours together. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know one another better, and benefit from both an outside Bible study leader and a guest speaker regarding the Minnesota housing crisis, in addition to evaluating and visioning for the work ahead.

 Bonding Money for Housing: The Homes for All Coalition Policy Team has been meeting twice per week, as we work to discern additions or changes to the 2019-2020 biennium agenda we created a year ago. In these discussions and presentations, it is very clear that in addition to the housing crisis, Minnesota has a severe statewide shortage of shelter beds for homeless individuals and families.

Given that 2020 is a bonding year at the legislature, bonding will be our primary coalition-wide focus. Last year the coalition made a bold request of $300 million, $200 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs) to increase the number of affordable housing units supplied through private or nonprofit developers, and $100 million to create or rehab public housing options. Last session, we were able to secure $60 million in bonding (HIBs), the only area to get any bonding money in the midst of a focus on budget. (We had anticipated that the bulk of that would need to be secured in the second year of the biennium).

After long discussions about the merits of making an even bolder bonding request vs. filling in the remainder of the $300 million request, we opted to go big and bold. We intend to push for $500 million for the creation & rehabilitation of affordable housing. Within that appeal we will be asking the legislature to add shelter development as a one-time eligible use of bonding money.

Clean Energy & Climate Change: In our environmental coalitions, we are a long ways from having our detailed clean energy and climate agenda decided, but are busy with partners trying to figure out what may be able to gain momentum in 2020. 100% clean energy/carbon neutral electricity by  2050 will certainly be part of the work again.