Some Good News. . .
And Still Lots of Work to Do!!!
Action Alerts are under the victories!
We still need your action!!
LOTS OF WORK NEEDED IN COMING WEEKS/MONTHS:
1) On racism and policing reform! The chambers are not even close to being unified on an approach and are not likely to get close anytime soon! The House recognizes systemic problems baked into systems that cause things to go array, while the senate is insisting the problem is several bad cops in Minneapolis and a few in St. Paul. They suggest that outside of the Metro, there are no problems & no reforms are needed. This will need work in the weeks and months ahead!!!
2) On renewable energy & climate change! Once again, house & senate ended regular session very far apart on these issues, and at best there may be some smallish renewable projects for communities in the bonding bill. Bigger action needs work in the months to come!
VICTORIES & WORK NEEDED IN SPECIAL SESSION #2 ON HOUSING
(House and Senate return to the current Special Session on Monday)
WIN #1: This week, Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan, and the Housing Commissioner announced that $100 million of the federal CARES funds to Minnesota will be used for Housing Assistance! This is a huge win, and something we (and you) have been advocating for since March! WhooHoo!!! On August 10, the money will be released and people can start applying. Money may be used for current and back rent, utilities, insurance payments, manufactured homes, and more. As it becomes available, information will be posted at http://www.mnhousing.gov/covid19housingassistanceprogram. Although it will not be administered through the program where our Homes for All Coalition thought it would best be housed, we will continue to monitor the program development and the funding organizations chosen to distribute funds. (NOTE: Organizations or Agencies wishing to distribute the funds must have a proposal to MN Housing by next week Wednesday, July 22).
CONCERN: With the level of need, and the extra $600 in unemployment ending soon, a cascade of additional needs and housing challenges are expected. Remember that our state (along with much of the nation) was experiencing an extreme housing crisis even before COVID-19. Evictions in the thousands or tens of thousands are also likely when the Eviction Moratorium ends. Will $100 million be enough to prevent the looming increase in homelessness?
WIN #2: On Tuesday, Gov. Walz signed another Executive Order, approved by the Executive Council, to extend the Eviction Moratorium until the ending of the Peacetime Health Emergency Declarations in Minnesota. While this keeps people housed for the time being, it is a temporary solution. Hopefully, the Housing Assistance Funding (above in Win #1) will help keep people housed, if they’ve gotten behind on rent, and keep landlords in business. But longer term solutions are needed from the legislature!
WIN #3 on Bonding (but it’s not done yet!): The House introduced a bonding bill with $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds and $16 million on bonds for Public Housing Rehab. The Public Housing number is much better than the $2 million the senate was proposing by the end of the regular session! We believe these housing amounts are an agreement between the House and Senate Leadership, with participation from Senate Capitol Investment Committee leadership (i.e. Sen. Senjem, Rochester).
CONCERN: This agreement still needs a 2/3 vote from each chamber!! The House Minority Leader is still threatening that he will not allow his caucus to vote for any bonding until the governor’s emergency powers are ended. You may also remember that as part of the Homes for All Coalition, we have been working for $200 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds and $100 million in Public Housing bonds. Our original request this year was $500 million, because the size of the crisis is huge statewide!!! So, while this is a significant win if we can get it over the 2/3 vote, it is still significantly less than is needed to address the size of the crisis.
ACTION ON HOUSING:
1) Send Thank You emails Sen. Gazelka, Rep. Hortman, Sen. Senjem, Gov. Walz, & Lt. Gov. Flanagan! (If desired, you may add your own senator. Who represents me? ).
Sen. Paul Gazelka (MN Senate Majority Leader)
Rep. Melissa Hortman (MN Speaker of the House): firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. David Senjem email@example.com
Gov. Tim Walz & Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan https://mn.gov/governor/contact/
Tips & Talking Points:
- Use your own words! Keep the whole email positive, even when talking about what is yet needed.
- Thank themfor them for the commitment to $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds AND the $16 million in GO bonds (Government Operation bonds) for Public Housing rehab. The additional uses of bonding for single family housing, and for people in deeper poverty are good!
- Thank them forgood bipartisan discussions and conversations on housing!
- Remind themthis commitment does not include anything for shelters, especially important in this time of COVID-19 and physical distancing. Needs should not have to compete for funding – some additional funding should be put aside for shelters.
- This commitment is a good investment in Minnesota’s housing needs, but is still far from the investment needed to move out of deep housing crisis.
- Thank themfor the $100 million designated for housing assistance from the federal CARES Act (for COVID-19 relief)
- Talk about the difference this will make to peoplein your community or church. Mention why this is important to you (Why do you care?). Faith language is especially important for several of these people.
- God calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable!
- Throughout the Bible, God lifts up the needs of the poor and the responsibility of the greater community to care for the poor.
- The Biblical prophets were constantly reminding their leaders (the kings & princes) about their role in caring for the most vulnerable in their nations.
- Mention you are Lutheran(and an advocate with Lutheran Advocacy-MN) – [What we hear is that legislators realize they are getting emails from people of faith, but don’t realize the bulk of those are coming from Lutherans. Several legislators are Lutheran or attend Lutheran churches in their communities).
2) Email Rep. Daudt! (If desired, you may add your own representative. Who represents me? ).
Rep. Kurt Daudt (MN House Minority Leader): firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips & Talking Points:
- Be courteous, but firm.
- Use the bonding information from the above talking points, but take out all the “thank you” wording.
- Any points you make about benefits your community will receive or about why you care are relevant (like they are in the thank-you emails above)
- Faith & Lutheran language remains important (like above).
- Point out that as soon as any emergency ends, the housing situation will get very bad, very quickly. He should not hold housing bonds hostage to end the COVID emergency.
- If he is concerned about the emergency powers the governor is using, he should make sure there is legislation passed by the legislature to make sure all COVID emergency needs, including and especially in the housing sector, BEFORE trying to take emergency power away from the governor. (Add any reasons you see as relevant).
- Thank Rep. Daudt for anything he may have contributed toward getting to the agreement for using $100 million in federal COVID CARES funding for emergency housing assistance.
As always, thanks so very, VERY much for your action now & previously! You can take some of the credit for the “wins” if you’ve been advocating to legislators!!!