Local electeds to Governor Walz: More must be done to protect renters and preserve our communities
Yesterday, 30 local elected officials from across the Twin Cities region sent the following letter to Governor Tim Walz calling on the administration to continue its course to protect renters and take additional steps to stabilize housing throughout the pandemic and economic crisis. Download the PDF here.
Dear Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan,
Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our communities, we thank you for your stalwart leadership throughout this crisis and ask you to continue it by keeping Minnesotans in their homes during this difficult time. In Minnesota, like so many places, renters face increased risk compared to homeowners because they don’t have the same kind of rights or protections under the law. Furthermore, renters in our communities are far more likely to be people of color and indigenous people, who already live with some of the worst racial disparities in the country. And while we are One Minnesota, the impacts of the pandemic and economic crisis do not treat us as such. Inequities in health, income, housing stability and employment have been exacerbated in each of our communities. This not only disparately impacts low-wealth households and households of color, but weakens our ability to recover from the pandemic and economic crisis as a collective.
Nationally, the U.S. is poised to face a tidal wave of evictions as moratoria expire around the country, with 30-40 million renters at risk of eviction in the coming months, according to the Washington Post. New data released last month by Stout, a global advisory firm, projects 197,000 Minnesota renter households will be unable to pay rent, leading to 133,000 potential eviction filings over the next four months. This does not even take into account the pending impacts of the loss of additional CARES unemployment funds, which were a critical lifeline to many households through the month of July. Safe and secure housing is still a leading public health strategy to contain COVID-19, and your executive power and leadership matter more than ever to maintain public health and safety.
The initial eviction moratorium put in place by executive order was a critical step in preventing so many renters from being kicked out of their homes, and the time has come to take the next step and strengthen that protection. As local elected leaders from across the state who represent and serve thousands of Minnesotans experiencing homelessness and housing instability every day, we are asking you to consider the following:
- No additional exemptions to the evictions moratorium. This pandemic has been catastrophic for so many people, but that doesn’t mean it has impacted everyone in the same way. The more carve-outs and exemptions we create, the more likely Minnesotans fall through the cracks and lose their home at the most vulnerable moment in their lives. Even with the broad moratorium, the Attorney General’s office has received more than 1200 complaints from renters who have been threatened by their landlords with unlawful displacement. We only expect that number to grow as the rollbacks implemented on August 12th are taken advantage of.
- Extend the evictions moratorium in place through the end of the year (2020) and through the end of the economic crisis created by COVID-19. As we continue to wait for any additional support from the federal government, it is critical that states like Minnesota continue to show leadership by ensuring renters housing stability at a time when so much else is in chaos.
- Make additional rental assistance available to people who are at risk of losing their homes at the scale necessary to avert mass displacement. Halting evictions alone won’t solve the catastrophic financial challenges thousands of people are facing due to loss or reduction of employment, cost of health challenges, and more. We need a long-term strategy to address the rental costs that, even if deferred, will as of now still be required to be paid back. This also must include a longer notice period before evictions are filed so that people have the opportunity to access resources, as well as an extended period of time for people to pay back past due rent.
- Automatic expungement of illegally filed evictions. When an eviction is filed against someone, it creates permanent harm to renters as long as it remains on their record. Unless there is a policy that automatically expunges evictions, the burden of addressing illegal evictions will rest with renters.
We appreciate the leadership your office has shown so far to support those who are most at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are asking you to continue that leadership moving forward.
Hennepin County Commissioners:
Ramsey County Commissioner, Rafael E. Ortega
Melvin Carter, Saint Paul
Mike Elliott, Brooklyn Center
Jacob Frey, Minneapolis
Shep Harris, Golden Valley
Maria Regan Gonzalez, Richfield
Bloomington City Councilmembers:
Golden Valley City Councilmember, Kimberly Sanberg
Minneapolis City Councilmembers
Minnetonka City Councilmember, Kissy Coakley
Richfield City Councilmembers:
St. Louis Park City Councilmembers:
Saint Paul City Councilmembers:
State Representative, Carlos Mariáni Rosa, House District 65B