An executive order from Gov. Tim Walz bans evictions, foreclosures, and lease terminations for the duration of the state’s peacetime emergency, but one Democratic lawmaker wants to take things a step further.
State Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) recently called for a “rent and mortgage moratorium” in Minnesota, an idea championed by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) in the U.S. Congress.
“Every Minnesotan deserves to have a safe, reliable place to call home. Right now, communities across the state are facing loss of income and increasingly exacerbated economic hardships during this public health emergency, while their rent and mortgage obligations continue to pile up,” he said in a statement.
Without the “suspension of these payments,” the state will continue to see “devastating consequences both during this public-health emergency and after,” according to Hayden.
“Our priority should be to provide the immediate relief Minnesotans so greatly need in a timely manner, and that includes a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments,” he concluded.
The Minnesota House is currently considering a bill that would appropriate $100 million from the general fund for housing assistance grants. Under that bill, Minnesotans who are unable to pay their rent or mortgage because of a public-health emergency could qualify for a grant.
The Minnesota Legislature has yet to see a bill be introduced that would codify Hayden’s rent and mortgage moratorium proposal, but it’s an idea that has been pushed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
“We need to cancel rent until this crisis is over,” Omar recently wrote on Twitter, repeatedly referring to housing as a “human right.”
We need to cancel rent until this crisis is over.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) April 8, 2020
A few days later, she introduced a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We must take major action to protect the health and economic security of the most vulnerable, including the millions of Americans currently at risk of housing instability and homelessness,” Omar said in a press release. “Congress has a responsibility to step in to stabilize both local communities and the housing market during this time of uncertainty and crisis. In 2008, we bailed out Wall Street. This time, it’s time to bail out the American people who are suffering.”
Jeremiah Ellison, a member of the Minneapolis City Council and Attorney General Keith Ellison’s son, also expressed his support for the idea.
“We cannot allow this public health crisis to worsen the housing crisis we are already in. Displacement does not make our communities stronger. Increased homelessness does not make our communities stronger. Right now, we should be focused on protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19, and not risk making more people vulnerable. Because this is not a matter of ‘if’ people will pay their rent – this is about how we formalize the reality that the rent is already canceled because people can’t pay,” he said.
As The Minnesota Sun reported, his father’s office has been aggressively enforcing Gov. Walz’s executive order suspending evictions and foreclosures.
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