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Is MN Foreclosure-Response Legislation Minor Repair in Big Housing Pit?

February 4, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. - When lawmakers return to St. Paul today for the start of the 2010 legislative session, they will be faced with closing a $1.2 billion budget gap. It's also expected they will address the financial crisis that many families are facing: foreclosure. A bill being introduced would provide a two-year moratorium on foreclosure proceedings for homeowners.

Chip Halbach, director of Minnesota Housing Partnership, says the foreclosure bill would buy Minnesota time until the state can address what is causing the foreclosure problem.

"That's going to have to come from a change in the economy and putting more people back to work, but on the housing front, it's going to have to come from making housing out there more affordable for people."

The proposed legislation also would provide rights to renters caught in a foreclosed-upon property. Halbach says Minnestoa continues to see a steady increase in households falling behind in mortgage payments - right now, almost eight percent of households are struggling to make those payments.

Halbach says the legislature is also taking up a bonding bill for statewide capital projects, and he sees that as a win-win for getting construction workers back to work and building affordable housing.

"The legislature should invest some of its bonding proceeds into affordable housing - construction, housing rehab - and then look at the tax code for ways to incentivize investment in constructing and preserving the existing affordable housing."

The bill, House File 2604, will be introduced in the Senate when its 2010 introductions process opens.


Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN