The day Mayor Frey announced $40 million in housing funding in his 2019 budget was a good day – and proof that our work in the policy and communications arena can pay off. Alliance Housing, primarily Director Barb Jeanetta and Intern Ryan Cirillo, have been active in the Make Homes Happen campaign. The campaign is made up of nonprofit developers, service providers and tenant advocates focused on increased resources and better policy to support tenants and owners of affordable housing in the City of Minneapolis. Primarily, the group has been advocating for $50 million in dedicated funding for affordable housing production, preservation and tenant protections over the next 10 years. The group considers Mayor Frey’s $40 million one year commitment a good start and is now working with Council Members to maintain and or increase that amount and make it a more permanent annual amount.
Over the last 6 months, Ryan has been updating our tenant survey. Alliance created the biennial tenant survey in order to identify the policy issues that our tenants are most invested in. As a result, when Alliance intervenes in local and state politics, we can more accurately advocate for our tenants because we have an abundance of data telling us where they stand on important issues.
This year, we spoke to 50 tenants from nearly all properties, including Hiawatha Commons and Gateway Lofts. We found that, in the past two years since the last survey, our tenants have become increasingly concerned with how the housing market interacts with the criminal justice system, the issue of affordable housing, and living wages/Social Security payments. Alliance intends on using this data to continue our history of advocating for our tenants’ rights.
During the next year, Alliance staff, board and tenants will continue to engage with Make Homes Happen and in the Homes For All MN coalition which is focused on State-level policy and resources. We’re encouraged that the MN Council of Nonprofits is hiring a policy advocate to focus on economic security issues, including affordable health care and child care. Those issues are of interest to our tenants and Alliance will find a good way to align. We keep appraised of issues at the federal level that need our attention through our membership in the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Through the survey and staff relationships, we’ve been able to engage tenants in meetings with their elected official and other campaign & coalition events. Board and staff also maintain relationships with elected officials in local, state and federal districts where we own properties. From time to time, we engage donors who live in districts where key housing issues are playing out.