2020 Budget Testimony: Housing investments insufficient to meet MPLS community needs

As the City of Minneapolis considers its 2020 municipal budget, The Alliance’s Policy Advocate, Tram Hoang, provided testimony at the first public hearing, lifting up the need for robust investments in affordable and equitable housing. Her testimony is included below. 

Good morning Chair Palmisano, Vice-Chair Fletcher and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning.

My name is Tram Hoang, and I’m a policy advocate for The Alliance. Our organization has been steeped in the many efforts that have been put into addressing our city’s affordable housing crisis on multiple fronts, from mobilizing around tenant protection policies to the increasing the housing trust fund to shaping the upcoming inclusionary zoning policy.

I’m here to communicate what we’ve heard in community and within our member organizations, which is that the proposed housing investments in the 2020 budget are insufficient to meet community needs.

As a member of the Make Homes Happen coalition, we are asking you to deepen your commitment to equitable housing in 2020 and beyond, by working with advocates, city staff across departments, cities across the state, and state legislators to identify, legalize at the state level, and pass one or more local, long-term, dedicated sources of funding for housing. We remember the commitments that many city council members made during our housing candidate forums in 2017, and will continue to work with you for as long as necessary to turn those commitments into real dollars for housing.

For The Alliance, housing investments are not just a matter of creating affordable homes, but an equitable housing system. And in order to center the conversation on equitable housing, we need to expand our vision beyond the three P’s. Yes, the production and preservation of affordable housing, in addition to tenant protections, are critical. But our analysis needs to include two additional P’s. First, the placement of housing to benefit historically disinvested and discriminated communities. Second, renter power – ensuring that renters are not just trapped in a cycle of consuming housing, but that they are able to participate in the housing market with equal power to achieve goals like community ownership or limited equity cooperatives. For that to become a reality, we will need city dollars to support the upcoming tenant right to purchase policy.

We believe the city should also be considering the racial impact of its investments, particularly related to the cultural districts outlined in the 2020 budget. Our communities know too well that when new investments enter historically disinvested communities, residents are at an increased risk of displacement as property values and rents rise. We hope that the cultural district investments are paired with investments in deeply affordable housing as a community revitalization and anti-displacement strategy.

We echo the words of Reclaim the Block and ask that you invest in what community has openly and repeatedly expressed helps them thrive, and address the root causes of public safety issues rather than further invest in MPD. Deepening investments to ensure access to safe, stable and affordable housing will result in savings across the board, including public safety, public health, education and employment outcomes.

Thank you.