Adequate shelter is a basic human need, as housing is a cornerstone of family stability and child development and traditionally is one the best avenues for building economic stability and generational wealth. As MCC considers a long-term policy agenda to provision the family and promote family economic security, we are more closely examining issues surrounding housing policies.
We are monitoring the Legislative Commission on Housing Affordability’s work. One item that this group of eight legislators is tasked with is making recommendations on legislative proposals that positively impact access to homeownership, especially for first-time homebuyers.
Recently, the commission acknowledged the severe housing inventory shortage is a root cause of why families encounter difficulty finding affordable rental units or becoming first-time homebuyers. While the shortage is driving up prices, municipal regulatory frameworks imposing limits on types of housing construction and requirements that raise building costs also affect the supply and price.
Representative Steve Elkins presented his idea for a bill, the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Act, which he says could help eliminate some impediments to new housing development. The bill has problems but is a starting point; MCC will monitor ways to ensure legislators see the connection between housing costs and family formation, childbearing, and family economic security.
The Results Are In – State Fair Poll
Every summer the State Fair becomes a place for Minnesotans to meet with legislators and take part in the nonpartisan (and non-scientific) House Public Information Services Office’s opinion poll. This year, 5,231 Minnesotans voiced their opinion on a dozen policy matters. Of those dozen questions, Minnesota Catholic Conference has been actively involved in four including promoting school choice, opposing the recreational marijuana industry, opposition to sports gambling, and ensuring that all people living in Minnesota (regardless of immigration status) are required to learn the rules of the road and become licensed before driving.
As with any survey, but particularly an unscientific one such as this, one must consider that results can be skewed due to biased wording. For example, the question posed to fairgoers regarding school choice used the term “vouchers” rather than “education savings accounts” (there is no “voucher” bill in front of the legislature). Regardless, the results showed a plurality of respondents favors enabling parents to choose a school that best meets their child’s needs.
The question regarding driver’s licenses failed to help respondents understand that regardless of one’s immigration status all drivers would be required to pass a test in order to be licensed thereby improving safety for everyone on the road. This consideration may have changed the 57 percent of respondents who opposed the proposal.
The question regarding recreational marijuana use fails to acknowledge that the law would enable a marijuana industry to profit off users. Compared to the previous poll, there was a small uptick in the number of people in favor of legalization (58.3%) as well as an uptick in those opposed (34.1%) showing fewer people remain undecided. When asked about legalizing sports gambling – another activity that preys on people’s vices – respondents were evenly split.
These results show that as Catholics we must help our legislators understand that legalizing harmful activities to generate tax revenue is fiscally irresponsible and will produce long-term costs that will need to be remediated by more public services.