Policy & Advocacy
While Alliance Housing has a lot to be proud of with its current work and housing portfolio, many issues among low wage workers and affordable housing are bigger than us. Building support for bigger systems change takes policy and advocacy work. The 2021-24 strategic plan sets the following goals:
- Goal: Articulate and advocate for a policy agenda that increases resources for housing those with the lowest income and addresses issues that impede access to and retention of stable housing.
- Goal: Articulate and establish Alliance’s brand among key stakeholders in community.
Alliance’s policy agenda revolves around the following three categories.
1. Bricks & Mortar | Building More Affordable Housing
The affordable housing crisis has been atop many legislative and policy efforts over the last few years. The data is clear: the gap between rents and income continues to widen and more families find themselves with unstable housing, or unhoused, or stressed by paying too much of their income towards rent.
Alliance Housing is small but mighty in our coalition-based housing advocacy. In past years, our advocacy work with Homes for All MN has garnered a $100 million in housing infrastructure bond (HIB) authorization by the MN Legislature. These resources are essential to fund the type of housing Alliance owns and managers for very low income and low wage earners.
Given the State’s 2022 surplus and the size of the housing problem, this year the group is asking for $2 billion in resources to create and preserve homes and to create more access to affordable housing with rent and homeownership assistance. Minnesotans of color are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis. The investment will reduce disparities and expand choice. Right now, please take the opportunity to talk with your own elected officials about how people you know are affected by the affordable housing crisis and ask them to support $2 billion for housing. If you’d like to get involved in future policy alerts and efforts look for Homes for All MN tweets or posts to their Facebook page.
2. Access to Affordability | Lowering the Barriers
While money for housing is fundamental, we also are working to ensure that affordable housing is available for all. At Alliance Housing, we practice Housing First, giving people a chance regardless of their criminal, rental, or financial background. We are working to expand the housing market by increasing opportunities across the market for our current and prospective tenants.
There is evidence of this work in government capital funder applications and public policy. Hennepin County and MN Housing now ask applicants how they will “screen in (verses out)” tenants. The City of Minneapolis City Council adopted two tenant protections measures in September 2019: one to set maximum look-back criteria in criminal screening practices and the second to limit the amount of security deposits landlords can charge. Alliance and others were active in organizing support for the ordinances.
In addition, we’ve also partnered with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative and 80 some other housing developers and service providers to advocate for rent assistance for very low-income households through Bring it Home MN. Current programs like Section 8 only fund 1 of 4 families that qualify. With rents increasing over the last 10 years, families are simply not able to afford rents with what they are able to earn. Rent assistance would help keep more families stable so they could retain employment and do lots of other good things in their lives. Again, look for alerts on Twitter and other social media.
3. Opportunity for Stability | Supporting Agendas for Prosperity
Along with the priorities directly relating to housing, we know this alone is not enough. We recognize that our tenants lives won’t be stabilized without fair wages and dignified treatment in the workplace, rehabilitative justice systems, and access to programs and supports for mental health treatment.
We completed a survey of tenants in winter 2021 to discern policy issues of importance to them. Most are focused on increasing the supply of housing like they had access to, increasing wages and access to health care. We will look for opportunities to engage in advocacy with our tenants on these issues.