Everything starts at home. Your health. Your education. Your wealth-building. Your sense of support and stability. If you have a stable, affordable place to call home, all these positive outcomes become possible. We see this every day at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. But we also see the housing crisis growing worse by the year. Home prices and construction costs are skyrocketing to astronomical heights. Wages can’t keep up. And Minnesota has the nation’s worst racial disparity in homeownership. If we truly want to expand access to affordable housing for our fellow Minnesotans, we can’t keep trying the same solutions.
It’s high time for something new – and bold – to address Minnesota’s affordable housing crisis. That’s why we’re proud to support Our Future Starts at Home, a statewide housing campaign focused on passing a constitutional amendment for housing. The amendment will provide a dedicated, ongoing revenue stream that will be crucial to ensuring we all have a place to call home.
“The challenge is that less than half of 1% of the state budget goes toward housing,” says Chris Coleman, President & CEO of Twin Cities Habitat. “And our housing supply is woefully short of the demand. If we can all agree that every Minnesotan has a fundamental right to housing, then we need to find a way to fund it.”
Here’s how the housing constitutional amendment would work. It would raise state revenue and dedicate it to three flexible funds:
Homeownership Opportunity Fund Help many more first-time homebuyers afford and access homeownership.
Rental Opportunity Fund Increase the economic security of very-low and extremely-low-income households by funding ongoing rental assistance.
Household and Community Stability Fund Help Minnesotans improve the condition of home and community.
Each fund would have a council of Minnesotans who make recommendations to the legislature for how the funds should be used. The councils would include frontline housing organizations and those with lived experience of housing instability, ensuring that those with the most experience have a seat at the table. This would be an absolute game-changer for tackling the affordable housing crisis.
While lawmakers often say housing is a top priority, they are not aligned on solutions, and traditional legislative campaigns have been unsuccessful in funding solutions that adequately meet the need. This status quo means more of our neighbors are being left behind without affordable housing. So, when government is not working in the way we need it to, we the people can change our constitution.
This has happened before, so we know how successful it can be. In 2008, Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. It provides a dedicated, continuous stream of funding for things like wildlife conservation and preserving Minnesota’s arts and cultural heritage. And today, Minnesota has a thriving arts community and some of the best parks and wildlife spaces in the nation. In 2022, Colorado voters passed a similar housing constitutional amendment to tackle their affordable housing crisis—and now they’ll have the resources to develop an additional 10,000 affordable units each year.
To pass a constitutional amendment in Minnesota, a majority of the Senate and a majority of the House of Representatives must agree to put it on the ballot. Then, a majority of all Minnesotans who vote in the following statewide election must vote to approve the constitutional amendment.
Many of our Minnesota lawmakers already support housing—if we come together to advocate, we can pass this constitutional amendment.
Passing this amendment won’t necessarily be easy, and we expect to be involved with this campaign over the next couple of years. It’ll take housing supporters from across Minnesota coming together with one voice to make the case. But this is our opportunity to change the future of generations with safe, accessible, and affordable homes. There’s simply too much at stake to stick to the status quo.