Activists press Dayton on affordable housing

Proportion of households burdened by housing costs
Proportion of households burdened by housing costs.
Minnesota Housing Partnership

Housing advocates say they are pushing for more affordable housing across the state this legislative session, adding that they hope Gov. Mark Dayton will make preserving affordable housing and building new housing among his top priorities this year.

Chip Halbach, director of the nonprofit Minnesota Housing Partnership in St. Paul, said the need for more and better housing is especially acute for households living at less than 30 percent of the state median income.

Halbach emphasized "trying to make more investment in that housing, so that population that is really on the borderline between homelessness and having a decent place to live, that there is more resource for that population."

At the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, oficials say the agency is promoting affordable housing as a way to increase economic development.

Tonja Orr, the assistant commissioner for housing policy, said she hopes Dayton will recommend policies that make it easier and cheaper for low-income workers to find housing close to their jobs. The need is acute for low-income residents, particularly outstate.

"We know that there are all sorts of studies that say that if someone has access to stable, affordable housing they are more likely to have an attachment to the workforce, they are more likely to ge productive when they go to work, kids are more likely to attend school and have better achievement in school," Orr said.

Dayton is expected to release his budget proposal early next week.

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