Dayton wants affordable housing fix next year

Gov. Mark Dayton announced the creation of a task force on affordable housing that will make recommendations next year. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Gov. Mark Dayton has created a new task force that will study affordable housing and make recommendations for next year’s legislative session.

Dayton announced the initiative Thursday during a state Capitol news conference. The task force includes housing advocates, developers and government representatives.

Dayton said affordable housing is a complex problem that he regrets not tackling earlier.

“Housing is one of these persistent crises in Minnesota for so many individual families, who can’t afford housing to either own, buy or rent,” Dayton said. “And it’s ironically been exacerbated by the economic growth that we have realized over the last couple of years.”

Jeanne Craine, CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation, and Acooa Ellis, director of social justice advocacy at Catholic Charities, will serve as co-chairs of the task force.

Ellis said she is pleased that the task force will also look at issues related to housing.

“We have dedicated time and space to hear from people all over the state to better understand links or gaps between housing and things jobs, transportation and school,” Ellis said.

Mary Tingerthal, commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, said the task force will take a close look at the state’s housing supply and ways add to it. But Tingerthal cautioned that the state cannot build its way out of the current housing crisis.

“We really have to work hard to preserve what we have, as well as building new housing,” Tingerthal said. “If we lose more units every year than we’re able to build, we’ll get further behind.”

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