What’s one thing that could move us forward on affordable housing?
We asked four members of the Humphrey School community to weigh in on a big question.
Gail Dorfman (1992–93 Mondale Fellow), Executive Director, St. Stephen’s Human Services; Met Council Member
This is a moral issue as much as an economic one, so let’s reframe the debate and legislate that housing is a basic human right for all and act on that. With housing a human right, building and zoning codes could be less restrictive, allowing for safe, innovative housing models that developers could afford to build; rental subsidies would be granted to anyone who needed one; eviction rates would fall; and housing access and stability would spur job retention, school achievement, and help end homelessness.
Edward Goetz, Professor, Humphrey School; Director, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
National and regional tax reform. Limiting the mortgage interest deduction would generate billions of dollars that could be spent on affordable housing. We could double the amount we spend on affordable housing and still leave the deduction in place for those with low or moderate incomes. At the regional level, we could channel a small portion of tax revenue from high-end residential properties into a fund for affordable housing and still generate millions of dollars within a few years.
Noel Nix (MURP ’10), Deputy Director for Government Relations and Community Engagement, Office of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter
We must re-imagine what home looks like in the 21st century. Our existing housing in Minneapolis and St. Paul is aging and was designed to meet the needs of a long-past era. We need more affordable options for larger immigrant families and more options for downsizing empty nesters and younger workers delaying or opting out of parenthood. We also need more affordable multifamily ownership options and innovative single-family options that are less expensive to construct and maintain.
Deidre Schmidt, Adjunct instructor, Humphrey School; President and CEO, CommonBond Communities
We need to start viewing housing as critical infrastructure, something that demands deliberate attention and investment. We don’t build cities without planning and investing in sewers or roads. Why do we assume that affordable housing for the full range of workers and citizens will just happen? Sufficient, quality, affordable housing is not a natural byproduct of development or even a strong economy; it is a necessary ingredient for a healthy economy and society.