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The 2024 MN Legislative Session

The 2024 MN Legislative Session

After a few busy months, Minnesota’s legislative session has come to an end. Twin Cities Habitat was active in this year’s legislative process finding ways to advance affordable homeownership through our key legislative priorities. Check out what we worked on below!

Funding for the Heights

One of our largest legislative priorities this year was seeking funding for the development of The Heights, a profound investment in the Greater East Side of St. Paul. As this is by far the largest development in our history, we are working hard to leverage private and public funding to make it possible.

The original ask for The Heights was $73 million from the state in housing infrastructure funds, a joint request with our project partners, Sherman Associates and JO Companies. This funding would be used to support the creation of over 1,000 new housing units in total, $23.6 million of which would go to Twin Cities Habitat for the construction of 147 housing units. Public funding is critical not only for the development of affordable housing, but also for the ability to support families at a variety of incomes.

In April, the House held a hearing for this ask with the Housing Finance and Policy Committee, which was a great opportunity to share information with legislators on what our ask is and the need for investing into affordable housing. While this ask did not move forward in this session, Twin Cities Habitat will consider pursuing another ask next session. In the meantime, we are relying on our strong partnership and communication with the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and will apply for state funding again this year through the traditional process.

HOA Reform

The second legislative priority on our agenda this year was to reform and improve processes surrounding Homeowners Associations (HOAs), also known as common interest communities. HOAs create and enforce conditions and restrictions for the communities in which they operate, and in doing so, provide many benefits to residents. However, HOAs can also be misused in ways that cause issues for residents and can challenge our goal to preserve homeownership for owners on a long-term basis. For this reason, we advocated this year for a policy that would establish a common interest community ombudsperson position.

This position would provide guidance to resolve disputes between homeowners and HOAs, compile data and trends, and provide recommendations to the legislature. Throughout the past few months, Habitat worked closely with housing partners to advance this goal and adjust it as necessary, and to share information with lawmakers and staff. Fortunately, we received a lot of interest and support from lawmakers.

The legislature has approved funding for the establishment of a working group on Homeowner Associations. While this is an adjustment of our original idea, a working group is a significant achievement and will be crucial in setting the stage for better regulation of HOAs. This will accomplish the goal of compiling data and tracking trends, and will be helpful in informing our asks for next year. With more knowledge of trends and data, we will be able to better understand specific patterns and best practices on how to address them.

Scroll through the images below from Habitat on the Hill:

Lt Governor Flanagan

Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan greets supporters before speaking.

Hab on the Hill-1

Habitat advocates from all over Minnesota stop for a photo on the steps of the Capitol

Habitat Supporters Meet with their Senator

Habitat supporters meet and review the legislative asks with their senator

Homeowner Carroll stops for a photo with her family

Habitat homeowner Carroll stops for a photo with her partner Bahati and daughter, Alexandria.

Carroll's daughter Alexandria listens to her speak in the capitol

Carroll's daughter, Alexandria, listening to her mom share her story in the Capitol Rotunda

Habitat on the Hill 

Habitat on the Hill is one of the biggest ways we advocate for affordable homeownership and investments into housing. This year was a huge success, as it was our first time hosting it in the Capitol Rotunda and had some of the highest turnout we’ve seen yet.

Over 120 attendees gathered from across the state to hear from speakers, discuss the affordable housing crisis and what it will take to address it, and meet with legislators. We were so grateful to partner with Habitat Minnesota to host this advocacy day and see representation from so many Habitat affiliates. Participants rallied in the Rotunda to hear from speakers, including Lt. Governor Flanagan, Representative Michael Howard, Senator Zach Duckworth, and a Habitat homeowner, Carroll Alihonou.

Attendees were especially moved by Carroll’s story of how she became a homeowner in June of 2023. Carrol was born in Togo and moved to the US with her family in 2004. She was committed to building the life she had envisioned for her daughter, Alexandria, just as her own father had done for her, and knew homeownership could empower her to do so. After overcoming challenges and working hard to save, learn about homeownership, and finish her degree, Carroll closed on her Habitat home in Apple Valley. Since then, she has started a new job, begun a master’s program, and made her house into a home for herself and her family. “This is why affordable homeownership is important. It changes lives and makes dreams come true”, she remarked. Carroll’s story left a palpable feeling of inspiration across the room, and embodied the values that Habitat aims to incorporate through our work.

During our advocacy training, participants were informed about our legislative asks and how to advocate for them when meeting with their lawmakers. While meeting with legislators can seem daunting, Habitat’s supporters weren’t afraid to dive in, and thrived in becoming well-versed, informed, and effective advocates in front of their lawmakers. We were grateful to have so many long-term supporters returning for another successful Hill Day, as well as many new folks joining for their first one. In addition to advocating for the HOA reform outlined above, we also asked legislators to support reducing barriers to building more homes, investing in housing infrastructure bonds, and establishing a constitutional amendment for affordable housing.

Session ending doesn’t mean our work does! Our efforts to ensure everyone has access to a safe, decent, affordable home will continue year-round, and we rely on supporters like you to keep the momentum going. Sign up to receive advocacy action alerts in order to stay involved and get the latest news on advancing affordable homeownership.

Click here to see all the photos from Habitat on the Hill 2024.

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