Getting to work on housing affordability


The first meeting of the Select Committee on Homeownership Affordability and Availability occurred on Aug. 13 and was a key moment for Minnesota’s housing industry and, more importantly, our current and future customers, as well as homeowners and renters throughout the state.

As the Select Committee heard from all testifiers, our housing market is in a precarious position with a lack of inventory and an affordability crisis that holds us back from properly supplying the market. I expressed a sense of urgency to the committee, because as housing professionals, we know how long it takes to bring homes to market. This problem is getting worse each month, and we don’t have time to ease into these policy discussions.

As you’ve heard from Housing First Minnesota throughout 2019, we need to reimagine housing. That means addressing inefficiencies wherever we find them, be it in construction processes, materials or regulating for safety and durability. The reimagination will require some challenging conversations and acknowledgments.

Some of these challenging issues surfaced in the Select Committee hearing, and certainly the release of the Housing Affordability Institute’s study on building permit fees has sparked challenging but critically important discussions. All stakeholders in the housing discussion are at the table and it will be important to look at the roadblocks with the end user in mind – the homeowners and future homeowners in our state.

The housing regulatory process is a massive, largely disconnected network of policies, requirements, fees and negotiated agreements. Our housing market can’t afford these traditional ways of doing business. Well-intended policies and regulations have failed to balance housing affordability with resource protection and durability. We are now getting to work on resetting and balancing housing policy and regulations with an eye toward increasing the supply of housing. It is a big task, but current and future generations of Minnesotans are counting on us to fix this problem. I look forward to joining all stakeholders in this important work which will keep our region vibrant and strong.