Housing First Minnesota would like to provide updates on a few key advocacy items throughout our industry:
After a thorough review process that included an advisory hearing with an Administrative Law Judge last August, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Temporary Commissioner Roslyn Robinson has announced that there will not be an update to the residential energy code this cycle. Updates to the energy code will next be considered in the 2024 code cycle.
Given Minnesota’s ranking as the most energy-efficient state for new homebuilding among states that test a high volume of projects, Housing First Minnesota advocated that a code update would unnecessarily increase costs for homebuyers at a time when Minnesota has an affordability and inventory crisis. Minnesota’s Green Path, the state’s largest green building program, provided key data on the successes achieved by Minnesota homebuilders. In addressing the energy code this cycle, Housing First Minnesota convened a coalition of groups including the Minnesota Realtors, HBA of Fargo Moorhead, Central Minnesota Builders Association, and the Builders Association of Minnesota all of whom concurred that a code update was unwise at this time.
Housing First Minnesota Demands Building Permit Reduction and Refunds
Housing First Minnesota issued letters last week to four cities that have reported substantial surpluses over multiple years for building permit and plan review services. The four cities that received letters are Corcoran, Dayton, Lake Elmo, and Victoria.
In the demand letters, Housing First Minnesota outlines that it believes strongly that the actions of these cities are inconsistent with state statute and Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry guidelines regarding a fee for service building permit program.
State law mandates that building permit fees established by municipalities must be by “legal means as a fee for service and must be fair, reasonable, and proportionate to the actual cost of the service for which the fee is imposed.”
Housing First Minnesota has long called for cities across Minnesota to refund any over-collected building permit fees to homeowners and bring their fees into alignment with state law.
While Housing First Minnesota focused its action today on four cities, the most recent Permit Report produced by our affiliated Housing Affordability Institute analyzing publicly provided data indicates dozens of cities engage in similar practices that are harming home buyers.
Legislature Names Housing Committee Leadership
The Minnesota Legislature will convene in early January for its 2021 session. Creating the state budget and providing COVID-19 relief will be the top priorities, but housing is expected to be a major issue as well. Leading the Housing Finance and Policy Division in the House of Representatives is Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), and leading the Housing Policy and Finance Committee in the Senate is Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake).