The Minnesota State Legislature kicked off its 2021 session on January 5. While many legislative meetings, committee hearings, and floor sessions are adapting to virtual environments due to COVID-19, Habitat is continuing to elevate the importance of homeownership as a critical piece of solving the affordable housing crisis and the key to building wealth and opportunity across generations.
Just as Habitat partners with community supporters and volunteers, all levels of government have an important role to play in creating equitable access to homeownership through investments in producing affordable homes and preparing families to become homeowners. In the wake of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to preserve affordable homeownership opportunities so that every family has a safe, stable place to call home.
In partnership with the Minnesota Homeownership Center, Twin Cities Habitat has four main priorities on our legislative agenda this year:
1. Increase funding for the Homeownership Education, Counseling, and Training (HECAT) Program
House File (HF) 1635, Senate File (SF) 1928
HECAT helps to preserve affordable homeownership opportunities by providing much needed foreclosure prevention counseling, homebuyer pre-purchase counseling, and homebuyer education and training.
A photo from a Habitat homeownership education course, pre-COVID-19. All Habitat homeowners go through one-on-one financial coaching with a Homeownership Advisor and complete homeownership education courses on their path to homeownership.
2. Increase funding for the Challenge Program
HF 979, SF 1071
The Challenge Program invests in producing affordable homeownership opportunities by providing funding for land acquisition, new construction, and home affordability.
3. Increase cap amounts for the Rehab Loan Program (RLP)
HF 1084, SF 1002
The RLP provides resources for health and safety related home repairs. Expanding the maximum loan amount from $27,000 to $40,000 will better cover construction labor and material costs and stabilize homeowners with significant repair needs.
4. Continue housing assistance for homeowners impacted by COVID-19
As households continue to face economic impacts due to COVID-19, housing assistance helps prevent foreclosure, preserve affordable homeownership opportunities, and ensure long-term sustainability for homeowners in mortgage crisis. We are tracking the inclusion of mortgage assistance in the most recent federal relief package while making sure that a plan is in place at the state level to ensure homeowners receive the resources they need.
Many Twin Cities Habitat homeowners benefitted from the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP). A dedicated team of Habitat volunteers worked hard to help homeowners process their applications—read their story here.
In addition to leading on these priorities, Twin Cities Habitat works in coalition to broaden our impact at the state legislature. We support the efforts of Homeownership Minnesota to expand investments in affordable homeownership production, preparation, and preservation. We are also an endorsing member of Homes for All, whose legislative agenda encompasses the full continuum of housing.
Once our bills move through committee hearings, we will ramp up grassroots advocacy efforts to push them past the finish line. Your voice can make a big difference in elevating affordable homeownership to your lawmakers. Join us for Virtual Hill Day on Friday, April 30 to help us advocate for affordable homeownership this session.