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Habitat's Legislative Priorities for 2024

Habitat's Legislative Priorities for 2024

Minnesota’s 2024 legislative session starts on February 12, and Twin Cities Habitat is ready to dive in to advocate for affordable homeownership. Each year, we create a legislative agenda to prioritize the policies and funding we want to advocate for to advance homeownership and racial equity. To accomplish the goals in this agenda, we collaborate with partner organizations, meet regularly with elected representatives to share information, and rely on supporters like you to advocate for these priorities.

Last year was an incredible session for our advocacy efforts, and we hope to make this year just as successful. Read on to see what’s on our agenda this year and how you can help us achieve it.

Habitat on the Hill for 2024 landing page
Habitat supporters celebrate advocacy for affordable homeownership at Habitat on the Hill – MN 2023.

Funding for The Heights

One of our biggest priorities this year will be securing funding for our development at The Heights, a major project that will include housing and light industrial redevelopment in East St. Paul. Twin Cities Habitat is partnering with Sherman Associates and JO Companies to build more than 1,000 housing units on the former Hillcrest golf course. This is a transformative opportunity to bring high-quality affordable housing, new jobs, public amenities, and sustainable infrastructure to St. Paul. It will also be the site for the 2024 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, a global event that brings together volunteers, elected officials, and celebrities to advocate for affordable housing while helping build it.

The Heights is, by far, the largest development in Twin Cities Habitat's history. As such, we are leveraging every source of funding available to help make it happen, and this includes public funding from the state.

Key Facts:

  • $73 million investment from the state in housing infrastructure funds, $23.6 million of which will go to Twin Cities Habitat.
  • Twin Cities Habitat will be responsible for building up to 150 of the housing units.
    • We will build a range of homes, including single-family, twin homes, and townhomes.
    • We will build homes catered toward a range of income levels to ensure affordability levels are meeting community needs.
  • Construction will begin in summer 2024 and go through 2028.

The Heights - Block 6 aerial rendering
A rendering showing one of four blocks of Habitat homes coming to The Heights.

Reforming Homeowner Associations

Twin Cities Habitat seeks to not only help people buy homes but also ensure they are successful in keeping and maintaining their homes after they’ve moved in. One aspect of homeownership for many homeowners is working with a Homeowner Association. Homeowner Associations (HOAs) are self-governing organizations within certain communities that make rules for the community and provide services in exchange for member fees. These entities can provide many advantages to homeowners, such as helping with property maintenance or providing additional amenities. But at times, HOAs can also create challenges.

HOAs create and enforce conditions and restrictions in the community that dictate what residents can do with their homes, yards, parking, and more. These rules vary by HOA and can be good tools to maintain safe, healthy, livable communities. But sometimes they can be misused to impose arbitrary and excessive fines on residents who violate rules. HOAs can levy fines, place liens on homes, and even pursue foreclosure. For example, during the pandemic when a foreclosure moratorium was in place against banks, HOAs were still allowed to initiate foreclosures. HOAs can provide wonderful benefits to communities, but it's important that they provide transparency and opportunities to be held accountable when appropriate. 

Twin Cities Habitat and our housing partners are advocating for a new policy that would establish a common interested community ombudsperson position tasked with facilitating disputes between homeowners and associations. The person in this role would help track complaints, enforce and regulate consumer protections, advocate on behalf of residents, and provide recommendations to legislative committees. Our goal in pursuing this bill is to make sure buyers continue to feel empowered about the ownership of their homes, and this happens through increasing transparency, accountability, equity, and communication. HOAs should benefit residents more than burden them, and this bill can help make that happen.

Homeownership Bloom - Featured

Supporting Items

Twin Cities Habitat also advances other policies by supporting the efforts of organizations with similar goals to us. This year, we will support reforming Contract for Deed, an alternative way to pursue homeownership for buyers who might have trouble qualifying for a traditional mortgage. With this option, buyers make payments directly to the seller until the home is paid off. Reforming this process would provide buyers with more consumer protections and rights to prevent predatory real estate transactions from occurring. We will also support a constitutional amendment for housing to ensure long-term, sustainable investments to address Minnesota’s housing crisis across the entire housing continuum.

How You Can Help

Achieving these goals is only possible with the help of our supporters. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved!

Please sign up for action alerts from our Government Affairs team to receive new steps you can take as they come up. These actions are designed to be simple and not take up too much of your time, but they make all the difference in our work.

Sign Up for Action Alerts

Next, please join us for Habitat on the Hill Minnesota! On Thursday, April 18, we will gather at the Minnesota State Capitol with staff, supporters, and legislators to advocate for affordable homeownership. Registration is now officially open, so we hope to see you there! Register below (it's free!) or check out our landing page for more information and resources.

Register for Habitat on the Hill

LeAndra, Governor, Lt. Governor, Habitat on the Hill 2023

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