In January, MCCD’s Board of Directors voted to approve the 2021 Policy Agenda, which is now posted on our website. The policy agenda shares MCCD’s policy and advocacy priorities at all levels of government and shares the proposals that we think would meet our mission “to work collectively to build strong stable communities by leveraging resources for the development of people and places.” MCCD and our members are committed to advocating for anti-racist policies and expanding community wealth building opportunities in BIPOC communities.
The Minnesota State Legislature convened the 2021 session early January, with the Republicans maintaining control in the Senate and the DFL maintaining control in the House. 2021 is a budget year, meaning that Legislature must pass a budget by the end of June or face a shutdown. The most recent budget forecast in December 2020 indicated a likely $1.27 billion deficit, which is an improvement from the forecast given May 2020 of $4.5+ billion deficit. Regardless, a deficit complicates negotiations and decreases the likelihood of funding increases for programs that would help MCCD members in their work. Revenue raising proposals, including a potential tax increase on wealthier Minnesotans and corporations, have been suggested by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan.
MCCD remains committed to advocating for additional funding resources and policy changes that would support the work our economic development, community wealth building and affordable housing members do. Part of this work includes helping to support the Minnesota Budget Project’s revenue raising campaign, Together We Rise.
At the local level, cities and counties will continue to face significant fiscal and logistical challenges from COVID-19. While additional state and federal resources will be critical to the health and safety of local communities, municipalities are also exploring the many ways they can advance access to opportunities for housing and wealth creation.
One of the stated priorities for both Ramsey County and City of Saint Paul elected leaders is addressing unsheltered homelessness. The City and County have worked together to increase indoor emergency shelter space already this winter, but encampment evictions have disrupted grassroots mutual aid efforts that flourished in 2020.
At the city-level, in 2021 the City of Saint Paul will be providing direct assistance to families through 2 pilot programs: providing rent subsidies for families with school children and a universal basic income pilot. The SAFE tenant protection policies, which included limiting tenant screening criteria, advance notice of sale, and other critical renters rights, that passed in 2020 will come into effect in March 2021.
Both Saint Paul and Minneapolis are also discussing rent stabilization measures as a potential way of keeping people safely housed as well. Advocates, such as the Housing Equity Now St Paul (HENS) coalition are been building on previous tenant protections work, define rent stabilization as “rent regulations that limit rent increases in private rental housing, usually by creating a predictable schedule for the maximum percentage of rent increase that is allowed each year.”
In the community economic development sector, MCCD is committed to meaningful and intentional community engagement and community wealth building. To that end, we work collaboratively with our partners at the Small Business Partners, Resources for Business Support Organizations, and Minneapolis Forward Community Now Coalition on the repair and recovery of BIPOC and immigrant business corridors and cultural districts. We aim to deepen our connection with our partners, amplify community voices, and co-create solutions for systems change.
This is a high-level outlook for some of the policy work that MCCD and our members are working on this year. Members and partners are always welcome to connect with MCCD’s policy team: