Minnesota cities propose housing policy solutions that work

(St. Paul, MN – February 15, 2022) City leaders are calling for passage of a bill introduced in the Minnesota State Legislature that will provide a comprehensive approach to addressing housing availability and affordability challenges. The Comprehensive Housing Spectrum Act (HF 2880), supported by the League of Minnesota Cities, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Association of Small Cities, Metro Cities, and the Municipal Legislative Coalition reflects proven strategies for addressing housing challenges without undermining local decision-making authority.

The bill includes provisions for:

  1. Addressing the full spectrum of housing from support for affordable housing and preservation of existing units on up to new market-rate construction and homeownership.
  2. Supporting local innovation when cities are addressing housing needs in their communities.
  3. Providing incentives to support city efforts that meet diverse local housing needs.
  4. Prioritizing community-specific solutions throughout Minnesota that are sensitive to the different housing needs across various cities.

Other recent housing bill introductions seek to target city land use tools on behalf of developers and appear to focus on increasing profits for construction of market-rate, owner-occupied housing — while offering no guarantee of affordability. These measures will prevent city residents from having input on decisions that are best for their own communities and will ultimately fail to meet the diverse housing needs of Minnesota communities.

“Despite providing incentives – including low or no cost land and tax breaks – it is incredibly challenging for Greater Minnesota cities to attract any residential development at all,” said Todd Peterson, community development director with the City of Roseau. “The resources in HF 2880 will assist cities with the cost of housing infrastructure and provide authority for Housing Redevelopment Authorities to construct workforce housing when the market won’t.”

Other key issues addressed in the bill include Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) preservation, corporate investor purchasing of homes, and funding of resources that address housing challenges and guarantee affordability such as state resources for the Economic Development & Challenge Fund Grant Program, Local Housing Trust Fund matching grants, and the inclusion of capital investment resources for qualified affordable housing.

“HF 2880 is a comprehensive approach that supports cities like Lakeville with policy and resources that bolster local efforts to attract and support a diverse array of housing stock across the spectrum,” said City of Lakeville administrator Justin Miller. “While Lakeville continues to develop at a fast pace with new housing opportunities, our single- and multi-family Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing stock continues to be the most affordable housing option, and the resources and policies in the bill that address Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing preservation are crucial.”

“Communities across the state are working diligently to help address housing challenges,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-Falcon Heights), who is authoring HF 2880. “This bill will help support local housing efforts and provide critical state resources and policy approaches that are flexible and sensitive to unique housing challenges across communities.”

The first legislative hearing for HF 2880 is scheduled for Feb. 17 in the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee.