Housing Equity Now St. Paul (HENS)
The Alliance is among the founding members of HENS (Housing Equity Now Saint Paul) — a growing coalition of groups representing St. Paul neighborhoods and residents focused on housing justice. We are rooted in community — specifically low-wealth and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities most affected by economic inequality.
HENS recognizes that when we view housing as merely another investment opportunity, we not only fail our renters, but everyone who calls Saint Paul home. By failing to acknowledge the critical role of equitable housing in public health, we neglect the health of the city as a whole. By failing to treat housing as a right, we perpetuate the accumulation and extraction of wealth from low-wealth communities of color. We call for policies that protect tenants and advance community control of land and housing that supports equitable housing conditions for all residents.
Built on years of advocacy and groundwork by tenants and housing advocates, HENS came together in 2020 and organized community members across the city in a grassroots campaign to elevate the need for tenant protections as a racial equity strategy, centered BIPOC and renter voices in policy-making decisions. Together, we made sure our St. Paul City Councilmembers passed the strongest tenant protections ordinance in the state, becoming the first city in Minnesota to include just cause protections.
Winning tenant protections was an important victory, but we know there is still so much work to be done. For years, we’ve known that rising rents have disproportionately impacted BIPOC households, resulting in widening racial disparities in housing cost-burden, housing instability and homelessness. We’ve heard from Saint Paul renters, some of whom have seen their rent increase hundreds of dollars at a time, that something must be done about unreasonable rent growth. In 2021, HENS is focused on rent stabilization as the next step toward equitable housing in Saint Paul.