Advocating for Eviction Reform: Ensuring a Fair and Equitable Housing Process for All Minnesotans

Thank you to all our Homes for All endorsing organizations, such as Greater Twin Cities United Way. We’re sharing a blog from Greater Twin Cities United Way about how we’re advocating for much-needed eviction reform for all Minnesotans.

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way to strengthen housing stability and prevent homelessness is through eviction reform, by updating Minnesota’s outdated eviction process so that it is more reasonable and equitable.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 judgment 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.

Advocating for Change: Ensuring Safe, Affordable Housing for All Minnesotans

Thank you to all our Homes for All endorsing organizations, such as Greater Twin Cities United Way. We’re sharing a blog from Greater Twin Cities United Way about our Homes for All virtual legislative kick-off event on January 8.

At Greater Twin Cities United Way, we believe that secure, stable housing is foundational to the health, safety and well-being of Minnesota families. That’s why we’re advocating for policies that promote housing stability and prevent homelessness at the Minnesota Capitol this legislative session.

One of our valued partners in this work is Homes for All, a statewide coalition that strives to advance shared policy initiatives that lead to housing stability for all Minnesotans. On January 8, Homes for All hosted a virtual legislative kick-off event for housing advocates across the state to learn about their legislative priorities, connect with other people who care about housing issues and get energized to make a difference.

Amplifying Community Voices through Coalitions

Building thoughtful, lasting change that ensures affordable housing for all Minnesotans cannot be done alone. Working in coalition with other groups that share our goals aligns critical priorities to address community challenges as one collective voice, further advancing effective policy change. This could be seen early in the pandemic, when United Way worked in coalition with Homes For All to advocate for $100 million in emergency housing assistance. We also partnered with the state of Minnesota to leverage United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline as the go-to resource for people accessing those funds, as well as other resources around housing, food and utility assistance.

The event included a variety of participants, from nonprofit staff and state legislators to people who have previously or are currently experiencing housing instability. Speakers shared their lived experiences and voiced challenges around finding affordable housing options – particularly close to public transportation – across the state, as well as dealing with the sudden and permanent impacts of evictions.

On January 8, Homes for All hosted a virtual legislative kick-off event for housing advocates across the state to learn about their legislative priorities, connect with other people who care about housing issues and get energized to make a difference.

Transforming the Evictions Process

Minnesota is currently one of only seven states in the U.S. that does not require a landlord to formally notify a tenant before filing an eviction. Requiring this would allow renters more time to remedy the situation – be it through finding alternative payment resources, negotiating an agreement with the landlord, or quitting the lease and vacating the unit – and is critical to reducing the filing of unnecessary eviction notices. In 2021, we will continue to work in coalition with Homes for All as we work towards evictions reform.

This legislative session, United Way and its coalition partners are calling for legislation requiring a 14-day pre-eviction filing notice and record expungement reforms for evictions related to nonpayment of rent to prevent more people from sliding into homelessness.

As Home for All’s Policy Co-Chair Kari Johnson stated: “We know that there are people out there who could benefit from these policy updates. They could be a gamechanger for many.”


Electronically vote to implement Advisory Board by 1/27

On Thursday 01/21/21, we had an in-person vote to implement the H4A Advisory Board. As a reminder, the Advisory Board of the Homes for All coalition oversees the strategy, priorities, and goals of the group. The Advisory Board works closely with the Coordinating Team to understand the ongoing work, focus, and effectiveness of the coalition and support the work. We are opening the electronic voting process 1/25 to be open until 1/27.

Click here to vote today.

  • Click here for the full description of the Advisory Board on our blog
  • Click Here for the Advisory Board Slate of Candidates 

Note: one vote per endorsing organization; voting closes 1/27/21.

ACTION 3/4: Invest in housing during budget setting

We need your advocacy! Please keep reading and send an email to Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Gazelka.

We need our lawmakers to set high budget targets for housing and homelessness, ensuring that people get into and stay in safe, affordable housing. Email today to ensure housing and homelessness services are a priority as the budget is set. 

Housing is the single most important issue to stability in Minnesotans’ lives, and the current budget surplus gives us a unique opportunity to address our housing crisis here in Minnesota. Our current housing situation is near a breaking point. We need strong investments in shelter operations, housing supports, homeownership opportunities, vouchers to housing, bonding for affordable housing, and keeping rents low in affordable housing. In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused a disproportionate economic impact to our BIPOC population in Minnesota. Prioritizing the BIPOC population in our recovery and centering equity is a must.  

We have an opportunity to move beyond the normalcy that did not serve some of our Minnesota neighbors. This opportunity to move into a more equitable future requires bold vision and investments in our housing stability. Please support investments in housing during the budget setting process.

It only takes a minute; please email your lawmakers NOW to tell them we need strong investments in housing assistance in the current budget. 

ACTION 3/18: Take Action, Help Prevent Evictions!

We need your advocacy! Please support H.F. 12 and help prevent evictions by contacting your lawmakers. 

The Minnesota Legislature is currently taking up bills to negotiate the future of the eviction suspension in place by Executive Order. We know the eviction suspension has saved countless lives, prevented increased COVID-19 cases and helped provide stability to renters as rental assistance funds remained in flux. With an additional $672 million in emergency rental assistance coming to Minnesota soon, we need to make sure that renters and landlords are made whole. Please take a few minutes to email your lawmakers and ask them to support the continuation of the eviction suspension through the duration of the pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of Minnesotans, the Homes for All Coalition’s top priority is ensuring housing stability for Minnesota households and our housing market. This is why we have been continuously advocating for shelter support, rental assistance, homeowner assistance and the eviction suspension since the start of the pandemic a year ago. As the Minnesota Legislature contemplates the future of Executive Order 20-79, we are deeply concerned about the effects of a potential off-ramping of the eviction suspension and how it would impact tens of thousands of Minnesota renter households. The suspension has saved lives and prevented housing instability, Minnesota’s current suspension should remain in place until the public health crisis has clearly ended and recent federal funding has time to help cover unpaid rents.

It only takes a minute; please email your lawmakers NOW to tell them to support the continuation of the eviction suspension through the pandemic’s duration.