Gov. Dayton Forms Housing Affordability Task Force

Gov. Mark Dayton created the Housing Affordability Task Force in December. The task force, which is examining the high cost of housing in Minnesota, is comprised of affordable housing developers, housing industry experts from the nonprofit and private sectors, local government officials, state legislators, business leaders and housing advocates.

“This task force will develop new solutions to address Minnesota’s housing challenges, and help ensure that more families have access to safe, affordable places to live,” Dayton said in a statement announcing the task force last year.

To accomplish its work, the task force has formed three smaller workgroups – Homeownership, Rental Housing, and Housing Stability and Opportunity – to examine specific topics. Sparse representation of home builders and housing industry advocates has not deterred Minnesota’s housing industry from providing input during recent meetings. Housing First Minnesota has been playing an active role, including providing testimony, research and statistics to the task force that point to regulatory costs as a key driver of housing prices.

Minnesota’s high regulatory costs are felt across the state, particularly in border cities like Duluth and Moorhead. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, who sits on the homeownership workgroup, recently pointed to regulatory relief as a needed solution to the high cost of housing in Minnesota.

“It’s heartening to see our message of regulatory reform being brought up by task force members,” said Nick Erickson, regulatory affairs manager for Housing First Minnesota.

Erickson, who testified on behalf of Minnesota’s home builders at a recent homeownership workgroup meeting, added that task force members are beginning to see that building an entry-level new home in Minnesota is growing increasingly difficult.

The Minnesota Homeownership Initiate, a series of pro-housing legislative measures from Housing First Minnesota and the Minnesota Association of REALTORS, was presented at the Feb. 14 meeting of the homeownership workgroup. Chris Galler, CEO of the Minnesota REALTORS, told task force members that legislative changes can help reduce the high cost of housing in Minnesota by strengthening homeownership tax incentives and encouraging new home development though regulatory relief and addressing the industry-wide labor crisis.

Housing First Minnesota and the Minnesota Association of REALTORS submitted their joint 2018 legislative agenda, the Minnesota Homeownership Initiative, as a way to reduce the high cost of housing in Minnesota. Included in the proposal, submitted at the behest of the Housing Affordability Task Force, was legislation addressing the industry-wide labor shortage, reducing the high cost of housing regulations and protections for homeownership tax incentives. The task force is expected to host a series of meetings across the state over the coming weeks and will issue its final report in July 2018.