Housing & Homelessness Prevention

Stable housing is the foundation of safety, well-being, and growth in our communities. Strong investments in housing stability and homelessness prevention will lead to better educational outcomes for our kids, improved health outcomes for families, and to more pathways to careers and growth across the state. The Senate DFL’s 2024 Housing Omnibus bill accomplished that goal by funding family homelessness prevention, as well as through creative new efforts to preserve essential existing affordable housing. Every family deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and overall, this year the Senate DFL prioritized the needs of renters, seniors, and families who are facing homelessness as part of our solution to Minnesota’s housing crisis.

Preventing Homelessness:

Family homelessness is at an all-time high in Minnesota, and seniors are increasingly the fastest growing population at risk of homelessness. ~8,300 Minnesotans are experiencing homelessness on a given night, and housing instability is growing as well with fully half of all renters in our state spending over 1/3rd of their income on housing costs. Preventing homelessness saves lives, and investing in homelessness prevention and housing stability will allow seniors to stay in their homes, help working Minnesotans find good jobs in growing communities, give kids the support they need to succeed in school, and help families across the state take steps towards becoming homeowners for the first time.

  • Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP — $8.1m): The FHPAP program is Minnesota’s main tool in preventing homelessness and helping families find stable housing through emergency rental assistance and other supports. A strong investment in this program will save lives and help families across the state secure a safe and stable place to call home. FHPAP grants are primarily intended to help stabilize families in their existing homes, to shorten the amount of time in which families stay in emergency shelters, and to assist families with securing transitional or affordable housing. (SF 2040)
  • Workgroup on Expediting Rental Assistance ($471k): The Workgroup on Expediting Rental Assistance (WERA) met throughout 2023, and the legislature enacted several important recommendations this session in order to help prevent evictions, especially for families who are facing crisis situations and need emergency assistance. Updates include allowing the usage of e-signatures, new data collection on rental assistance distribution, and other streamlining updates which will get emergency help into the hands of families more quickly. (SF 4704)
  • Wilder Homelessness Study ($100k): New funding was provided to the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation for its triennial Wilder Homelessness Study will help us better understand and address the homelessness crisis in Minnesota. The Wilder study is one of the leading sources of homelessness statistics in Minnesota, and major preliminary findings of the 2023 Study include:
    • 10,522 individuals were experiencing homelessness on a given night in Minnesota in 2023.
    • Children and youth made up 4 out of 10 surveyed individuals experiencing homelessness.
    • Families make up ~47% of individuals experiencing homelessness.
    • Older Minnesotans (55+) are the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness in MN.
    • 33% of individuals experiencing homelessness are unsheltered.
    • (SF 4592)

Preserving Existing Housing

Building new housing won’t solve our housing crisis if we can’t keep our existing stock livable and affordable. Many affordable housing units in Minnesota are at risk of closure, and targeted investments to preserve these opportunities will keep families facing potential homelessness in their homes and help us avoid paying more in the long run as we work to solve our housing crisis. This funding builds on a historic $1b investment made in housing in 2023, the majority of which was dedicated to the construction and preservation of new affordable housing.

  • Community Stabilization ($25m – reallocation, not new funding): Funding from 2023 has been redirected into the Community Stabilization program to help preserve distressed and at-risk affordable housing opportunities. The Community Stabilization program was established last session and funded at $90m to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) through grants and loans to local governments, private developers, nonprofits, and other partners. New funding in the program is dedicated towards recapitalization, operating costs, and support for affordable non- profit housing providers, including $3.25m to provide badly needed repairs for a deeply affordable condominium at the Wilder Park Association in St. Paul. (HF 5242)

Advancing Housing Policy:

  • MERA/Comp Plan Fix: Comprehensive plans within the 7-county metro have been exempted from certain requirements of existing environmental statutes (Chapter 116D). This exemption relates to the Minneapolis 2040 plan and ongoing litigation regarding the use of environmental laws to block or delay certain developments under the plan. This provision additionally clarifies that comprehensive plans adopted by cities of the first class in the metro area do not qualify as pollution, impairment, or destruction related to environmental impacts under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. Overall, this change will help to promote more housing production, increase affordability, and prevent unnecessary litigation and obstruction – all while keeping strong environmental standards intact. (SF 4183)
  • Propel Non-Profits Funding ($150k): Funding has been provided for the Dept. of Human Services to contract with Propel Non-profits for a needs analysis and a site analysis of emergency shelters serving transgender adults who are experiencing homelessness. This important funding will help make sure that everyone in our state, including the people coming here to have a safe place to stay, does not experience homelessness. (HF 5242)
  • Statewide & Local Affordable Housing Aid: The Local Affordable Housing Aid (LAHA) and the Statewide Affordable Housing Aid (SAHA) programs which were established in 2023 have been amended to require recipients to use funds to supplement, and not to supplant, existing housing funding. This update will ensure that new state aid is used effectively to close our housing shortage and to help communities develop the types of housing that they need. (HF 5247)

MN Cooperative Housing Act:

A new chapter of law (308C), titled the Minnesota Cooperative Housing Act, will streamline current practices governing the creation and operation of housing cooperatives and provide one centralized place for Minnesotans who are looking to create a new cooperative to organize. Prior to the passage of this act, laws governing the various forms of housing cooperatives were scattered and unclear, and making it easier to form senior cooperatives, limited equity cooperatives, and student cooperatives will increase housing options and help more Minnesotans find housing which meets their individual needs. (HF 3800)

Tenants’ Rights

Nearly 1/3rd of Minnesotans are renters, and this year the Senate DFL expanded on the historic tenant victories of last session by establishing strong new protections including a tenant right to organize, a right to seek emergency assistance, expanded protections for survivors of domestic violence, and new remedies for students and renters when new construction isn’t finished on time. Evictions and abusive rental situations are disastrous for tenants everywhere, and leveling the playing field between landlords and renters is an essential step in achieving affordable and stable housing for families across the state. (SF 3492)

  • Tenant Right to Organize: Residential tenants now have the right to establish a tenant association to address issues related to their tenancy, housing, and community development. Tenant organizations empower groups of residents to strongly express their concerns and seek remedies to housing issues with a unified voice. In cases of unsafe or unclean living conditions, violations of building codes, delayed repairs, dangerous loss of heat, or other issues related to tenancy – tenant organizations can help renters communicate with their landlords or take advantage of Minnesota’s legal protections and remedies. (SF 3201)
  • Survivors of Domestic Violence: Survivors of domestic violence should never have the additional burden of an unnecessary eviction record. Under current practices, some survivors are being listed in eviction actions despite having legally vacated their leases. These clarifying changes to eviction and expungement practices will prevent survivors from having to deal with the additional impact of a harmful eviction record. These new protections will also ensure that survivors of domestic violence are safe from having dangerous personal information exposed by a landlord. (SF 3748)
  • ITIN for Rental Applications: Landlords are now required to accept Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) on rental applications as an alternative to a Social Security Number. Making housing more accessible for every Minnesotan will improve housing stability as well as educational and economic outcomes for families everywhere. It should be easy for everyone to apply for housing, and this simple update represents a positive change towards clarity and inclusivity. (SF 3769)
  • Identity Dinkytown: New remedies are established for tenants when occupancy of a unit isn’t delivered by the scheduled move-in date in the lease, including allowing tenants to choose between moving into new housing provided by the landlord, being paid the rent amount in their lease to find new housing, or terminating their lease and being refunded any deposits. This update relates to Identity Dinkytown, a student housing building which failed to open by the move in date in Minneapolis in 2023, and these strong new protections will help prevent a situation like what happened at Identity Dinkytown from happening again. (SF 3571)
  • Right to Seek Emergency Assistance: A call for help should never be considered a nuisance, and tenant protections which prohibits landlords from restricting a tenant’s right to seek emergency assistance has been expanded to specifically include mental health crises. This language stems from a series of incidents which arose regarding the City of Anoka’s “Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program” in 2023. (SF 3979)
  • Duty to Mitigate: If a tenant abandons a unit before their lease expires, landlords are now required to attempt to re-rent the unit to a new tenant at a fair market rate. If they find a new renter, the previous lease is terminated, and the original tenant will no longer be liable for rent for the rest of their lease term. This change, which most other states have already adopted, will protect vulnerable tenants and give landlords clarity on how to handle abandoned leases. (HF 5242)
  • Denial based on Pending Eviction: Landlords may no longer deny rental applications based on pending eviction cases, nonpublic court files, expunged records, or other specific eviction records. This change conforms with other eviction expungement updates which passed last session. (HF 5242)

Did Not Pass:

Zoning and Land Use Reform

The “Missing Middle” bill (SF 3964), as well as several other packages related to zoning and land use reform (SF 1370, SF 4254), did not pass this year. Provisions in these bills sought to promote the development of new types of housing including duplexes, quadplexes, ADUs, and multi- family housing in commercial areas, as well as to reduce regulatory barriers to housing development including the use of aesthetic mandates, parking minimums, and other restrictions. These bills met significant resistance from local governments due to impacting local control, and additional conversations on how to approach zoning reform may occur over the interim. (SF 1370)

Investor Homeownership

A bill which placed fees on corporate entities who purchasing single-family homes and convert them into rental properties, with proceeds directed into the new first-generation homeownership program, did not pass this year. (SF 365)

Senior Rent Stabilization

A provision which would have limited rent increases for seniors in 55+ senior housing buildings which receive Sec. 42 low-income housing tax credits did not pass this year, however a study on how rent increases have impacted seniors was included in the Housing Omnibus bill. (SF 3625)

Source of Income Protections

A provision banning discrimination against renters based on the acceptance of public assistance was removed from this bill in conference committee. This provision was also known as the Housing Stability Act. (SF 3780)

Other Tenant Right Protections

Several provisions related to tenants rights, including a new tenant right to repair, required landlord radon testing, a restriction on using criminal background checks on rental applications, and numerous enforcing penalties on landlords for existing tenant protections did not pass this year.

Constitutional Amendment:

A proposed constitutional amendment to create a new 3/8% sales with proceeds dedicated to three new housing funds was not heard and did not pass this year. This proposal may receive an informational hearing over the interim. (SF 4022)

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