Policy Matters at PPL
While Project for Pride in Living has long been focused on providing high quality affordable housing with services and offering opportunities for job skill development, it’s become increasingly clear that building affordable homes and developing marketable job skills isn’t enough to fulfill the promise of our mission and meet the needs of our broader community. We know there are many underlying and mounting reasons why people find themselves at PPL’s door.
The rising cost of housing, wage stagnation, rapidly increasing income disparities, the COVID pandemic, and the powerful forces of systemic racism are just a sampling of the unnecessary barriers that often make it nearly impossible for many in our community to find a path to dignity, stability and a better quality of life. PPL recognizes that we must also lean into the policy space, especially with like-minded organizations and coalitions, to both broaden opportunities and access in our community and to influence improvement to systems that often aren’t working for people who seek our services.
Starting in 2016, PPL purposefully defined “Race, Place, and Policy” as pillars of our mission. It has since become ingrained into our culture—and inspiring the name of PPL’s new monthly podcast. We have reimagined our approach to advocacy. We are intentionally and strategically centering the voice of our community and their lived experience, while also leveraging the value and credibility of our own organizational voice to actively support legislation that benefits the people and communities we serve. We do this through testifying before legislative committees and supporting our residents, participants and students to do the same. We are offering balanced and measured counsel to policy makers on numerous issues and also rallying at the capital in support of critical legislation.
Our policy approach is thoughtful, strategic, and collaborative. We believe that good partnership leads to great results. And, using high quality data and insights from the lived experience of the PPL community is the best path to better legislative outcomes.
This 2022 Minnesota legislative session, we have prioritized:
- Increased investment in affordable housing development and preservation through Housing Infrastructure Bonds, to ensure continued progress on our region’s significant shortage of housing available to all incomes.
- Full funding for Bring it Home MN, a plan that provides state rental assistance to all eligible Minnesotans to reduce the number of households paying more than 30% of their income on rent.
- Property tax reform for affordable rental properties, through reduction of the 4d property tax class rate for affordable housing. This legislation, which has become increasingly urgent in recent years due to rapid operating cost growth in our industry, would provide critical relief for operators of affordable housing to help rents remain affordable and ensure that buildings can be property staffed and maintained.
- Increased and more stable funding for the “Pathways to Prosperity” grant program, which supports workforce training across the state. Increasing the size and stability of the appropriation will help encourage the expansion of this program into new and growing job sectors.
- $2 million investment in “Earn While You Learn” grants, a pilot program to support employers paying full-time wages to workers, who split their time between work and training and education. This program is designed to reduce disparities though it’s focus on BIPOC, women, individuals with disabilities, and other underrepresented populations.
- Funding for reduced-cost driver’s education for students who receive free and reduced meals at school. Improving access to driver’s licenses for families earning low incomes helps expand access to more flexible transportation, which is often essential for access to education and job opportunities, and helps eliminate critical systemic disparities that exist within our state’s current approach to driver’s education.
Advocacy and policy change is often an incremental exercise, taking years for even small improvements or finding common ground in an increasingly divided legislative process. Nevertheless, our work is too important, and the need is too great to simply keep our head down and make the most of the resources, processes, and systems that currently exist. By elevating all our voices together, we will chip away at the barriers, flawed systems, and under-resourced programs to strengthen the implementation of PPL’s mission and to achieve better outcomes in and with our community.