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Metropolitan Council Leadership Waters Down Draft Housing Policy Plan’s Fair Housing Language

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 24, 2014
Contact: Lars Negstad, lnegstad@isaiahmn.org, 612.354.9708 OR Eric Howard, ehoward@isaiahmn.org, 928.701.1954

Metropolitan Council Divided on Equity
Vote on Housing Policy Plan at Odds with State of Region Address


Following the release of a draft Housing Policy Plan by the Metropolitan Council this week, the first such Policy Plan to be drafted since 1985, ISAIAH and the following organizations and individuals – Alliance for Metropolitan Stability; Housing for All; Housing Preservation Project; MICAH; Neighborhoods Organizing for Change; Rev. Brian Herron, Vice President of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention; Jeff Martin, President of NAACP St. Paul Branch – made the following statement:
“We are shocked and dismayed that the Metropolitan Council, under the leadership of Chair Susan Haigh, voted on Wednesday to weaken the draft Housing Policy Plan by removing stronger fair housing provisions which would have furthered racial equity across our region.

"The consequences of a weak final Housing Policy Plan would be very serious. Our country and our region have a history of explicitly racist zoning and land use policies that have resulted in structural inequities, and disinvestment in communities of color. A weak Housing Policy Plan would mean that affluent, mostly white suburbs will continue to be exclusive enclaves. Without strong proactive steps, racial and economic segregation in our schools and neighborhoods will continue. Too many children of color will be funneled into the school to prison pipeline. Our increasingly diverse region will continue to grow apart, rather than together. This is unacceptable.

"The Metropolitan Council’s Community Development Committee voted Monday night to strengthen the document’s fair housing language. Council Member Jennifer Munt moved the language, noting the Council’s strong commitment to achieving racial equity and reducing segregation. With support of the Committee Chair Gary Cunningham the amendment passed overwhelmingly. At last night’s full Metropolitan Council meeting, however, the Council voted 9 to 8 to remove the stronger language. Met Council Chair Sue Haigh vocally supported the move to water down the Housing Policy Plan.

"The deleted stronger fair housing language included provisions that would ensure that the Council would do the following:

  • Lead on Fair Housing in the Region: by affirming the Council’s role as a fair housing champion throughout the region by leading and funding fair housing compliance activities, testing in all markets, education and enforcement, and by explicitly naming the role of redlining (mortgage lending discrimination by banks) in fueling segregation.
  • Model Fair Housing Practices: by adopting its own comprehensive fair housing policy based on the recently completed, HUD-mandated Fair Housing and Equity Assessment ,and give explicit responsibilities for addressing fair housing issues to leaders of divisions that impact (directly or indirectly) housing.
  • Set High Fair Housing Expectations: The Council should leverage all housing-related competitive awards and contracts to affirmatively further fair housing.

"In January, Chair Haigh made strong and eloquent statement about the urgency and importance of working towards racial equity. In her State of the Region address entitled, “An Equitable Future for our Region,” Haigh said: “I am embarrassed that our region is at the top of the list of the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas with the worst race-based income disparities in the country.” She also posed and answered the question, “So, what does the Metropolitan Council have to do with eliminating disparities anyway? Everything.”

"Chair Haigh’s actions to weaken the draft Housing Policy Plan on the eve of its public release send a very disturbing signal that the status quo will continue to be tolerated. Creating racial equity is a laudable and critical goal for the Met Council to pursue. But it will require muscular policy that ensures an equitable housing policy plan that works hand-in-hand with an aggressive transit equity plan.

"We will continue to engage with the Metropolitan Council to advocate for a stronger final Housing Policy Plan - a strategic plan that moves our region towards ensuring safe, decent, affordable housing is available in all communities, and is a robust policy that increases racial equity and reduces racial segregation.

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ISAIAH, a non-profit coalition of over 100 congregations from various faith traditions working in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud and greater Minnesota, is committed to establishing racial and economic justice. ISAIAH is a member of the PICO National Network.
2014 Legislative Successes

Look here to see the progress made at the 2014 legislature.

MICAH Northeast

The Northeast chapter of MICAH is re-energizing. They just issued the following statement:
We are a group, representing diverse faith communities, living in both Ramsey and Washington counties, and meeting monthly, alternating between the city halls of Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake. We cultivate relationships with city, state and Met Council officials and administrators.
During 2014 we have urged the city of Mahtomedi to include affordable housing in the development of a former school site and supported the city's plan for a totally affordable apartment building for seniors on a former restaurant site. We continue to work with and support St. Andrew's Resource Center, Hope for the Journey Home, and Solid Ground as each helps homeless families toward permanent and affordable housing. We support and encourage the building of Habitat for Humanity homes in our communities; one is being built in White Bear Lake this year. We have representation on the Citizens Advisory Council for the Gateway Corridor and advocate for transit to make access to jobs available for the folks currently living in affordable neighborhoods as well as making future affordable housing possible. We continue to advocate at the state level through several agencies and organizations such as MICAH and JRLC.

MetroStats: Income, Education, and Immigration in the Twin Cities, 2008-2012

Regional Policy and Research recently published a new MetroStats providing an overview of the region’s 186 cities and townships during the 2008-2012 period, with particular attention to the variation across census tracts within communities. The report is based on American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For full info, click here.


Every One Counts!


As people of faith, we believe that everyone counts, that each person is a unique and special creation of God and that everyone, without exception, needs a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home.

On January 22, HUD conducted its count of people experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, because of HUD’s very restrictive definition of homelessness and how the count was done, it will significantly undercount the number of people actually experiencing homelessness. (See links at end of this article)

A special Thank You to our faith leaders that assisted in this count. It is our hope and prayer that:
1. People experiencing homelessness know God’s and our faith leaders’ love, compassion and mercy for them.
2. Our faith leaders renewed their commitment to continue to be involved in direct service in meeting the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness and will continue advocating and working for justice, equity, and mercy in implementing structural and systemic changes in our country so that everyone, without exception, has a decent, safe, accessible and affordable place to call home.

Together, with God’s Blessings, we are Bringing
America, Minnesota, and our Metro Area Home every day!

http://www.wilder.org/Wilder-Research/Research-Are...
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/01/16/h...
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/pre...


The Metropolitan Council looks at poverty and racial disparity. It shows Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center have racially concentrated areas of poverty (From Channel 12).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMndZ5tAC5o



Minnesota 2020 and Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) have teamed up to explore and examine the housing recovery. What has it meant for owners and renters in Minnesota? See the first report: Uneven Recovery: MN Housing is Getting Unaffordable


The largest homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis is the Salvation Army’s Harbor Lights at 1010 Currie Av. N. It’s designed to provide a warm place to sleep for 350 adults. One very cold night last week, it accommodated 550 people in almost impossibly crowded conditions.

Read the rest of the article,  A focus on homelessness will pay off for state in the January 10 Strib.


Homes for All 2013 County Profiles

The 2013 County Profiles show that a slow economic recovery and rising rental costs have made housing difficult to afford, especially for renters. Thriving places need affordable housing to ensure that Minnesota's children reach their full potential. Yet 97% of Minnesota's 87 counties have more extremely low income renters than affordable apartments available to them. Over the last decade, incomes for renters have fallen, while rents have risen in most places. 

For owners, home buying is now more affordable for some, but many renters lack the savings or credit needed to buy. Meanwhile, many owners cannot sell given current high debt levels.

View your own county's profile here, and see data, maps, and analysis.



How far out of reach is affordable housing in Minnesota?


Check out this analysis!


How many affordable units need to be built in my community?
How are we doing?  See answer on pages 7-11 at
http://metrocouncil.org/Data-Maps/DandMPublications/Affordable-Housing-2011.aspx



 

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