A Successful Session at the Capitol
As we welcome in another long-awaited Minnesota summer, I’m excited to share the great progress we have made at the Capitol in St. Paul over the last several months. The Minnesota Legislature adjourned In May after passing many bills so important to Project for Pride in Living, our residents, participants, and youth, and the broader communities we serve.
PPL entered the legislative session with high ambition and a focused agenda. Given the state’s large surplus, we knew there was great opportunity to advocate for critical investments in housing and workforce programs. We also know first-hand the significant systemic challenges and barriers that our residents, participants, and students experience every day that have been further exposed as a result of the pandemic, community unrest, and related economic turmoil. We know many of our residents still struggle to pay rent. We know family-sustaining careers remain difficult for people to access. We know that PPL and other nonprofit affordable housing providers are facing rapidly escalating costs to maintain properties, ensure safety for and dignity of our residents, and continue to construct new buildings.
PPL brought these messages to the legislature, and lawmakers listened. They consequently passed PPL’s top three legislative agenda items:
- Affordable Housing Property Tax Reform (4d Reform): Lowering and simplifying property tax rates for affordable housing, which will allow more resources to be reinvested back into buildings and programs that support residents.
- Stable Housing Organization Relief Program: The pandemic and related impacts cost nonprofit housing providers hundreds of millions of dollars, and this one-time appropriation allows PPL and others to stabilize our organizations and our properties.
- Direct Appropriation for Workforce Programs: PPL was renewed for another two years for funding that will broaden career pathways; expand our Diploma Connect program; and enhance employer-sponsored training.
There’s more. The full housing bill will direct a total of $1 billion to affordable housing including:
- $150 million for down payment assistance for first-time home buyers;
- $46 million in ongoing rent assistance;
- $200 million to support new affordable housing projects;
- Metro-wide sales tax providing ongoing housing resources estimated at $200 million annually.
Additional investments will enhance career readiness programs:
- $2 million increase to fund career pathways;
- $5 million to pilot apprenticeships in underrepresented communities;
- 4% increase to school funding formulas and free breakfast and lunch for students.
Policy-making is often a game of inches, and no single organization can push issues alone. PPL was fortunate to be able to enlist the help of residents, students, and program participants who also came to the Capitol to share their lived experiences that humanize our work with legislators. PPL also worked with our peer organizations to present a united message of the barriers to prosperity that have resulted from under-funded resources and rising costs. The result is progress for those who live with and learn at PPL, as well as countless others who access similar programs across our community state.