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Bill Designed to Give More Minnesotans Shelter

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 By Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Contact
March 13, 2007

A bill introduced in the Minnesota legislature would increase funding for housing for low and moderate-income families and for the homeless. Richard Cohen is the Senate sponsor.

"The legislation attempts to provide monies that are needed for housing for families and individuals who can't get access to affordable housing, and homeless shelters-people who have no housing whatsoever."

He says state funding for housing has dropped in recent years, and the proposal would increase the investment by $100 million, which would help a lot of Minnesotans. Minnesota's changing demographics and economics have made housing affordability a statewide concern.

"It was always felt that the housing problem was one that was singled out in, say, the urban centers. It was not a problem for suburban communities, rural communities, population areas around the state. And, that is no longer the case. You have housing and homeless problems in almost every corner of Minnesota."

The bill would increase the Minnesota "Deed Tax" by .17 percent to provide funding for housing development. Cohen notes that although it's a small amount, it will benefit a lot of Minnesotans.

Chip Halbach with the Minnesota Housing Partnership calls it a smart move, because shelter has become less affordable for more Minnesotans.

"Housing costs, both rent and home ownership, have increased much faster than the incomes of lower-paid workers. And, that's been going on for the last five years."

He says permanent, safe and affordable housing is especially important for families with children, because kids need a safe place grow up, and their parents need stability and job security. Plus, it helps communities accommodate all their residents.

The Senate bill is SF 442. The companion House bill is HF 939.

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