Affordable housing issues continue in Minnesota and Iowa

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(ABC 6 News) – Democrats in the Minnesota legislature are trying to get an affordable housing bill passed, while Iowa officials are reacting to statistics that highlights the growing need for affordable housing in the state.

“I think the important thing to remember here is that housing stability is a problem,” said Representative Kim Hicks.

22 percent of renters in Minnesota are paying more than half of their income on housing, which many can’t afford according to Rep. Hicks.

“Not having housing or being unhoused dramatically affects to do everything else,” said Hicks.

DFL lawmakers have been proposing an affordable housing bill for the past three years but couldn’t get it passed. The bill would subsidize rent for people earning less than 50 percent of the median income in the state.

Right now, people have access to section eight housing, but housing experts say only 25 percent of the people who qualify for section eight are benefitting from its services.

“So, we are talking about very low-income folks who are just slipping through our cracks. And this bill gives that funding to local housing administrators,” said Hicks.

In Iowa, the need for affordable housing is much the same.

“I say the biggest thing is we lack emergency housing through north Iowa and also affordable, habitable rental properties throughout our eight-county region,” said Executive Director of North Iowa Regional Housing Authority Justin Stotts.

A new report from the Iowa 211 information line shows that out of 13 categories, more than 30 percent of calls are related to housing. Justin Stotts says even when someone qualifies for help, there are still hurdles.

“The people that would come to the top of the waiting list are unable to find housing that meets our affordability standards or would pass an inspection as habitable and therefore are not even able to use that voucher,” said Stotts.

And while people are waiting to get housing, there aren’t a lot of options. Stotts says the NIRHA does not have resources like warming shelters to help.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it comes to couch hoping and staying with family and friends, but at our office, we are unable to provide emergency housing services. It comes down to churches, and local social services to provide that,” said Stotts