The bill would provide increased state support to cities for local housing efforts.
The House Housing Finance and Policy Committee heard extensive testimony on Feb. 17 from the League and city officials in support of the Comprehensive Housing Spectrum Act (HF 2880, Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-Falcon Heights). The committee passed the bill by a vote of 6-4 and re-referred it to the House Taxes Committee.
The bill includes:
- Support for infrastructure development in Greater Minnesota cities.
- A housing cost reduction program to reimburse cities for fee waivers and reductions provided to developers.
- Creation of a naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) program to acquire and repair current properties.
- Policy to address corporate investor purchasing.
- A pilot program for infrastructure grants.
Testimony supporting the bill
League staff testified about the merits of each provision, explaining that the bill addresses the full housing spectrum, supports local innovation, provides incentives to cities, and includes policies and resources that are community-specific.
Roseau Community Development Coordinator Todd Peterson and Golden Valley Housing and Economic Development Manager Cherie Shoquist also testified in favor of the bill.
Peterson brought the Greater Minnesota perspective and highlighted the vast market differences that a city like Roseau is dealing with. He said the city supports development through innovation at the local level to offset the lack of market activity and help meet Roseau’s immense workforce housing needs.
He focused on the need for policies and resources that are sensitive to regional differences. He also said state support is needed to help cities pay for infrastructure. This would allow a Housing Redevelopment Authority or Economic Development Authority to build workforce housing in areas that need it when private developers will not.
Shoquist’s testimony highlighted how different the needs of a built-out city like Golden Valley are from a Greater Minnesota city like Roseau and other cities around the region that have abundant land for development. She stressed the need for additional state resources for NOAH preservation.
She also said additional flexibility is needed for local financing tools, such as tax increment financing, that cities often use to ensure affordability in development and redevelopment. Lastly, she said the state needs to play a role in supporting innovation at the local level and providing additional authority for cities to mitigate tenant displacement.
The League also submitted joint written testimony in support of the bill with Metro Cities, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Municipal Legislative Commission, and the Minnesota Association of Small Cities. Other written testimony in support of the bill was submitted by the Minnesota Housing Partnership and the Greater Minnesota Partnership.
Testimony opposing the bill
Additional testifiers included representatives from the Minnesota Realtors Association and the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, who shared concerns about the bill’s tax provisions. Comments from the two opposing testifiers focused primarily on the ability for a Housing Redevelopment Authority to impose a mortgage registry and deed tax and the proposal to implement an excise tax to deter corporate investor purchasing.
For more background information about this bill, read a previous article.