Guest Blog by Pam Johnson
Public Policy & Advocacy Manager
Team Advocacy is six weeks into the state legislative Session with a FULL Agenda!
Our statewide Homes for All Coalition (200+ organizations) is working to secure and protect resources for affordable housing across the continuum, seeking $140 million in bonding and $10 million in appropriations from the state’s General Fund.
We have been meeting with legislators to advance a dozen bills related to these goals. We have also been making our case in hearings to Committee members who decide which bills will advance. As a Minnesota Asset Building Coalition member (150+ organizations), we are supporting several bills that address equity issues related to asset protection and development.
You can show your support of these bonding and bill efforts by contacting your legislators and asking them to continue making housing a priority this session.
Workforce Homeownership Minnesota-WHOM Bill
We are directing extra attention to The Workforce Homeownership Minnesota (WHOM) bill, which seeks to generate $10 million per year for affordable homeownership development.
WHOM has support from the Homes for All Coalition, the Governor’s Task Force on Housing, and bi-partisan legislators in the House and Senate. Our collaborative is comprised of 25 Community Action Agencies, eight Housing Land Trusts, Manufactured Housing Cooperatives, and community developers like Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. We seek to provide a range of housing solutions to communities statewide experiencing a shortage of ownership opportunities for a growing workforce.
With wages stagnant, and housing costs rising, we are working together to secure a source of dedicated revenue to double the number of affordable homeownership opportunities in Minnesota.
How does it work?
In 2016 the Legislature designated a Workforce Homeownership Fund of $750,000 within the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency as a one-year pilot program. The Agency received over $6 million in requests!
Eligible uses for these funds include:
- acquisition and rehabilitation,
- new construction,
- housing-related infrastructure,
- innovative models for single family and multi-family ownership, and
- preservation of existing manufactured housing communities.
Originally, the Agency simplified the application process, selecting two Metro and two Greater Minnesota projects for one-time support. Our proposal offers a unique mechanism to build upon this pilot, by simply capturing the growth in mortgage registry and deed transfer taxes annually for 10 years.
Rationale for WHOM bill
- WHOM brings balance
to affordable housing development along the continuum, as the majority of State funds spent to lower housing costs are dedicated to rental housing.
- WHOM funds add to the overall pie,
as this new source would increase workforce home ownership resources without reducing funds for other housing programs.
- WHOM presents a rational connection
by applying increased revenue from a strengthening housing market to help low-income households access opportunity via home ownership.
- WHOM helps Minnesota shrink its persistent home ownership gap
between white households and households of color.
- WHOM supports an important part of the affordable housing continuum,
as affordable homeownership impacts education, health, career, long-term asset development, and community stability.
Minnesota holds the nation’s second worst homeownership gap between white households and households of color. As a group, WHOM collaborative members have a success rate seven times greater than the market in assisting households of color to become homeowners.
WHOM provides homeownership opportunities for households with lower incomes. The average Area Median Income (AMI) served by members is 43%.
In addition to doubling the number of home ownership opportunities statewide, annual economic impacts include:
- the creation of 730 construction jobs,
- $3.5 million in state income and sales taxes,
- $730 thousand in local property taxes, and
- $2.9 million in real estate commissions.
So far, we’re on the right track!
In the House, we’ve had three hearings in two committees, and the Taxes Committee chose to approve WHOM for consideration in a larger Omnibus bill.
In the Senate, our bill made it to the Tax Committee, and awaits a hearing. (That committee is focused right now on addressing the impacts of the recently passed Federal Tax Bill on Minnesotans, but we will likely receive a hearing in the coming weeks.)
Before the legislative session ends on May 21, our bill will need to move from the House and Senate Tax Committees, to the House and Senate Floors, through Conference Committee, and back to the House and Senate Floor before landing on the Governor’s desk to sign into law. Learn more about our bill: House File 1535/ Senate File 1497.
The time is right for this legislation—and Habitat Homeowners would benefit directly. If you haven’t already, please sign up for Habitat on the Hill on April 26. Together, our voices and our presence will make a difference!