Earlier this year, the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® (SPAAR) formed a Housing Affordability Task Force (Task Force) to focus on the burden of ever-rising housing costs.
The Task Force feels this is an urgent issue that is taking a real toll on individuals and families alike. Homelessness is on the rise, rents are increasingly unaffordable, and the cost of entry into homeownership is too high. These problems cannot be fixed with a single or even a few broad blanket policies, this housing crisis needs to be met with a multi-pronged approach, implementing both short- and long-term strategies to reign in the problem.
The Task Force has identified five tactics to alleviate this housing crisis: Increase supply, density, assistance, funding, and awareness.
SPAAR and the Task Force believe that the foundation of the housing crisis is a lack of housing supply. According to the National Association of Realtors®, construction of housing in the U.S. has fallen 5.5 million units short of long-term historical levels over the last 20 years. To increase housing supply, SPAAR would like to see municipalities encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADU’s), rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, support new housing developments, and utilize low-income housing tax credits and opportunity zones. These are a few ways to increase supply, and in some instances density.
These proposals may not solve the problem immediately, but they help to create conditions in the long term that alleviate the cost burden on housing consumers, and lay the foundation for stable, affordable housing. The current housing crisis is causing real hardship. This is why SPAAR supports increased assistance for renters behind on their payments, and increased funding for down payment assistance and first-time home buyer programs.
Another aspect affecting consumers is a lack of education and resources about how to obtain and remain in stable housing and a lack of awareness about the resources available for folks who need help. SPAAR would like to contribute to a renewed effort to provide education and resources about obtaining and remaining in stable housing and promote programs and resources designed to help them do so.
SPAAR is hearing from consumers who are having increasing difficulty obtaining stable housing within their budget, either for rent or for purchase. This is a problem adversely affecting individuals, families, and entire communities throughout the state of Minnesota. Addressing the issue of housing affordability should be top priority for elected officials and local governments alike.
SPAAR’s Housing Affordability Task Force is committed to finding and promoting equitable solutions to relieve the burden of housing costs on communities in our territory. The Task Force will continue to meet, brainstorm, promote ideas and collaborate with stakeholders to implement solutions.
Check out the Task Force’s Strategies on the Housing Affordability Task Force webpage on SPAAR’s website here: SPAAR’s Housing Affordability Task Force