Category Archives: Affordable Housing

VICTORIES/ACTION still needed (Special Session #2)

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)
https://www.senate.mn/members/member_email_form.php?member_id=1169

Rep. Melissa Hortman (MN Speaker of the House): rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn

Sen. David Senjem sen.david.senjem@senate.mn

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): rep.kurt.daudt@house.mn

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!!!

Tammy

URGENT ALERT

Hello Friends –

Unfortunately, legislators have little to show for both their regular session and the first legislative session, except for a couple of COVID-19 Emergency Bills!

Now they are coming back for another Special Session on Monday. Right now, leaders from both chambers and both parties are negotiating, trying to come up with agreements so that a bonding bill can still pass. Last Special Session was several individual legislators gumming up the process for various individual bills or issues, to force the rest of the legislature to do their individual bidding (whether in the area they blocked or somewhere else). Leaders do not want that to happen again, although the potential is still possible! Our intel suggests that senate leadership is refusing to take up anything other than bonding.

You’ll notice that the Action Alert looks familiar! That’s because housing is still probably the main (only?) item that will be able to get bipartisan support in both chambers and pass. Given both COVID-19 and the economic recession, housing assistance, an eviction moratorium/grace period, and more affordable housing/rehabbed housing that’s affordable remain extremely important!!!

Even if you’ve contacted your legislators and/or legislative leaders before on these very issues, we need you to do it again!!

ACTION ALERT

WHAT IS NEEDED?

1)   At least $100 million in housing assistance (available from federal funding) designated to address COVID related concerns and job losses

2)   Changing the rental eviction moratorium to align with federal policy, and a grace period for rental payment (especially important if the rental assistance isn’t designated)

3)   $225 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds, with $25 million of it designated just one time for shelter use (especially important with distancing needed during the pandemic, but was needed ever before COVID)

4)   $100 million in Government Obligation Bonds to address Public Housing (including rehab or rehabilitation of apartment units)

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

Email your legislators AND their leadership. You might need to cut and paste into a web form if they don’t allow constituent emails directly to their email (because they get spammed so much). You only need a few sentences. Don’t worry about trying to say everything. Most important is that you personalizer it!!)

Your Senator (and Representative): Find out who they are & their emails by clicking here

Sen. Paul Gazelka (MN Senate Majority Leader)
https://www.senate.mn/members/member_email_form.php?member_id=1169

Sen. Susan Kent (MN Senate Minority Leader)
https://www.senate.mn/members/member_email_form.html?member_id=1215

Rep. Melissa Hortman (MN Speaker of the House): rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn

Rep. Ryan Winkler (MN House Majority Leader): rep.ryan.winkler@house.mn

Rep. Kurt Daudt (MN House Minority Leader): rep.kurt.daudt@house.mn

TALKING POINTS (Choose a point or two from each section below or create your own. NOTE: Faith language is especially important with some of our more difficult legislators & leaders!!)

  • Introduction
    • Share who you are, where you are from (town/city & church, if appropriate)
    • Mention you are Lutheran, and an advocate with Lutheran Advocacy-MN (that can be in the closing, intro, or body of your email).
  • The “ask”
    • See “What is Needed” above in yellow
  • Personalize why you care
    • Are there any shovel ready projects you are aware of your community? Mention them
    • Mention what you or your church are already doing to address housing needs in your community
    • If you are a young person, mention what grade you are in. Mention if you know any kids from school whose family needs housing that doesn’t cost too much.
  • General Information (NOT NEEDED unless you want more than what you’ve said to personalize the email. Don’t choose more than 1-2 & put them in your own words)
    • More than 580,000 families were paying too much for housing, even before the health emergency
    • The COVID virus has increased how vulnerable people are, including in the area of housing.
    • State bonding is an important tool that helps the more housing be built.
    • We want some of the housing bonds to help build both new housing, and some new shelters across the state.
    • Building more apartments and homes helps create thousands of new jobs.
    • Building more housing means there is more money circulating in local communities. That helps the depressed economy.
    • There are already many housing projects ready to be built across the state. They just need the funding.
    • God wants us to protect people who are vulnerable (including families with children, people who lost their jobs, people who are sick & can’t work)
  • Closing (Summarize and/or use something like the following in your own words)
    • Minnesota will thrive when everyone has a place to call home
    • Bonds for affordable housing will strengthen Minnesota’s Housing Continuum in every corner of the state.
    • Thanks for public service
    • Please support significant funds in bonds for housing!

Thanks so much for your action and your concerns for justice in God’s world!

Tammy

Action Alert – HFA 3/20/2020

Hello Lutheran Advocacy-MN Advocates –

We need your help!! Minnesota was already in an affordable housing and homelessness crisis and now so many more individuals and families are at risk of losing their homes due to impacts of COVID-19.

Although we continue to support the Homes for All Coalition effort around a bonding bill for affordable housing, Minnesota needs to respond now to many emerging needs.

Please take action on the Homes for All alert, by filling out the form  It will automatically give you your state senator’s name. Please note that although there is wording there, it is vitally important that you use your own words!! The more emails a legislator gets that look exactly like hundreds (or even dozens) of other emails, the less likely they are to pay attention. (OR Instead of filling out the form, feel free to go to the senator’s website to find their email address or use the form on their site, but let me know so that we can keep tabs on how many & which senators are contacted).

Here is the URL in case your computer doesn’t link right away:https://secure.everyaction.com/S3FeeXUT0EaHW0H17j-xkw2

Here are some main points you can make in the form using your own words (in any order, not necessarily the order here):

1)      Urge senate leadership* to

  1. a)      Put forward an emergency housing relief packagethat includes
  • a moratorium on evictions & foreclosures,
  • financial assistance to help people pay for housing costs, &
  • help for small-scale landlords that are protecting tenants but not getting what they need to cover their operating costs;
  1. b)      Support a very robust bonding bill for affordable housingthat
  • Takes advantage of very inexpensive credit,
  • helps create much more affordable housing across the state, and
  • provides jobs to help economically recover after the health crisis ends.

2)      Talk about why you care about this issue.

3)      Talk about your role in the community & why it helps give you insight into the problem. [Are you a community leader? Pastor, deacon, business leader, local elected leader, teacher, other? Does that give you even more insight?).

4)      Talk about the housing crisis in your specific community or area, and ways that you envision the COVID-19 crisis impacting low-income people who are vulnerable (low wage workers off work due to virus, etc….).

5)      Thank them for their work to help Minnesotan’s through this crisis.

*[Note: If your senator is Sen. Gazelka or Sen. Kent, then don’t tell them to “urge leadership…”, tell them as leaders to take this action.]

Do you have kids at home? They can also send a message! The simple message is “Don’t let poor people lose their homes when they can’t get to work or make enough money.” A picture that you take of a picture they draw showing a family or a home can also be sent to the senators. It may not work to put the picture in the form, but if you go to your senator’s website, you can either get an email address or use the form on their website to send the picture(s) from the kids! Be sure to add the age and or grade level of the child!

For the Future:

This may be the first action alert of various, to prevent low-income people and families from becoming homeless, and to address the needs of those who are homeless. This week I’ve been on several calls regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on those most vulnerable! It’s staggering to realize what can happen! I was especially troubled by what folks in the most impacted county in the state of Washington shared in a nationwide webinar. One of them emotionally said, “You must prepare!! And no matter how ready you think you might be, you aren’t!! Homeless & low-income populations are SO vulnerable!”

The alert above only addresses a piece of what will be needed!

I’ll send a more detailed email next week with 1) various impacts of the virus in our communities, 2) ways we can act individually & as church networks, 3) the kinds of information we may need from you in your local communities so that we can help legislators understand the full picture, 4) major event cancellations, and 5) alternative virtual event options in a some circumstances.

Thanks for being faithful advocates!! Please feel free to email, call or text me with questions!

ACTION ALERT

Hello Lutheran Advocacy-MN Advocates –

We need your advocacy today! We need legislative leadership to pass a COVID19 response package immediately that includes $50 Million of support for emergency shelters and $100 Million in rental assistance. [The various members of the Homes for All Coalition are pushing this alert through their networks, too! However, we are one of the few member organizations that have Greater Minnesota advocates. Most Great MN partners are service providers on homeless & housing issues, and don’t have advocates. YOUR voice is desperately needed!!]

Please take action ASAP due to unknown timelines at the legislature. (They may be coming into session on Thursday, but both chambers are “at the call of the chair” which could mean anytime. Meanwhile, leadership of both chambers are making LOTS of decisions behind the scenes…SO, act sooner rather than later).

Please click here to send your emails today! Remember that it is vitally important that you use your own words. Talk about why you think this action is important. Put the concerns into your local context. Hennepin and Ramsey counties have passed emergency funding to put homeless people into motels, but what about the rest of the state? And what about the renters everywhere across Minnesota!

Thank you! Your advocacy is always important, but especially so in this difficult health emergency!!!!!