By Kristen Rosenberger, Director, Advocacy and External Engagement
During this legislative session, one of Greater Twin Cities United Way’s primary focuses is to advocate for policies that promote housing stability and prevent homelessness. We know that above all, a stable home provides the critical foundation that every Minnesotan needs to thrive, and that secure housing supports better health, education and employment outcomes.
One effective way to strengthen housing stability and prevent homelessness is through eviction reform, by updating Minnesota’s outdated eviction process so that it is more reasonable and equitable.
Why Eviction Reform is Needed
More than 15,000 households in our state face evictions each year, with over 90 percent filed by landlords due to the nonpayment of rent. These evictions disproportionately affect low-wealth families and Households of Color, with Black women and their children especially vulnerable. Minnesota also has one of the fastest eviction processes in the nation, often because landlords are not required to notify tenants ahead of time – a standard requirement in 43 other states.
Updating Minnesota’s eviction process will help prevent people from sliding into homelessness, which continues to be a challenge for many families across the state as they navigate the negative impacts of COVID-19. Data shows that 39 percent of Minnesotans experiencing homelessness were evicted from their last home or did not have their lease renewed.
Uniting with Our Partners for Change
On February 18, I joined two of our extraordinary partners – the Homes for All coalition and United Way nonprofit partner Ujamaa Place – to testify in favor of three bills that would make Minnesota’s eviction process more fair and equitable. The slate of bills would allow people more time to connect to resources before losing their homes, provide a more fair court process and ensure an eviction filing isn’t made public unless a judgement is rendered in favor of a landlord.
During testimony, I highlighted how evictions filed across Minnesota each year can lead to more serious consequences:
“Many of our families struggle to access and maintain stable housing, with more than 15,000 evictions filed across the state each year. Following an eviction, families can spiral into a crisis, including unemployment, lower educational achievement for their children and negative health outcomes. All too often, an eviction can ultimately lead to homelessness.”
Ujamaa Place Executive Director and Greater Twin Cities United Way Board Member Otis Zanders also gave compelling testimony, sharing how the nonpayment of rent is the leading reason behind most evictions. He reminded legislators about the importance of viewing the challenging evictions process through the lens of race and poverty.
“When you’re working through the intersection of race and poverty, you’re forced to make hard decisions between paying rent or medical bills, rent or your car payment,” said Zanders. “These are the unnecessary choices that often force the men we serve (at Ujamaa Place) into cycles of poverty.”
All three bills were passed on to the next step in the legislative process.
Greater Twin Cities United Way is grateful for our dedicated nonprofit and coalition partners who are working every day to help keep more Minnesotans stably housed. We are hopeful that this series of legislation will be the first critical steps toward creating a more fair and just evictions process in our state.
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