Housing

Senator Smith knows that without a safe, affordable place to live, nothing else in your life works – not your job, your health, your family, or your education.

All Minnesotans deserve access to safe, secure, and stable housing, which is why Sen. Smith is committed to addressing the affordable housing crisis affecting people in communities across the state. Unstable and unsafe housing conditions often upend young people’s ability to learn in school, prevent parents from finding and holding jobs capable of supporting their family, and have long-lasting, negative mental and physical health impacts. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the severity of the housing affordability crisis, making an already dire situation worse. To address this, Sen. Smith helped pass the American Rescue Plan in 2021, which provided billions of dollars in emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance and housing vouchers to keep people sheltered and healthy. She also helped pass the CARES Act in 2020, which provided critical rental assistance to families in need.

Both the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan provided unprecedented but temporary assistance. There’s more work needed to put permanent measures in place, and Sen. Smith is still fighting. As chair of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development, she’s working to address homelessness, boost the supply of housing, invest in rural and senior housing, and eliminate home health and safety hazards.

While the lack of quality, affordable housing affects everyone. Sen. Smith understands that housing insecurity hits some communities harder than others. Renters are struggling to find units they can afford, homeownership is increasingly out of reach, and homelessness has been on the rise. Black and Indigenous individuals, and other people of color in Minnesota, as well as seniors and veterans, too often bear the brunt of these challenges. As a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Sen. Smith has been a champion for addressing the housing inequities that Native Americans and Tribal Nations face. In 2020, two of her bills related to Native housing became law: the Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act and the Native American Housing Affordability Act, which make it easier for Tribes to access funds to combat homelessness and secure mortgages on trust lands, respectively.

As we look to the future, Sen. Smith recognizes the importance of supporting improvements in federal housing programs like USDA’s Rural Housing Service, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, and the Housing Trust Fund. As a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Sen. Smith has introduced legislation to improve fire safety in homes, support homebuyers in Native communities, and address the legacy of housing discrimination. She will continue to fight for measures like these until they become law because everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to live.

Latest Releases

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads 29 Colleagues in Push for Robust Rural Housing Funding

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) led 29 of her Senate colleagues in a push for more funding for rural housing programs in the FY2025 Appropriations bill. In their letter, the Senators noted that rural communities saw only a 1.7% increase in the number of housing units between 2010 and 2020, with almost half of states seeing a decrease in the number of rural units. According to the Minnesota Housing Partnership, every county in Minnesota has a shortage of affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income households. 79% of counties have a shortage that exceeds 100 homes, and 31% have a shortage exceeding 500 homes. “Without a safe, decent, affordable place to call home, nothing in your life works – not your job, your health, your education or your family,” said Senator Smith. “While the housing crisis is hurting communities across the country, the burden has been especially hard on small towns and rural communities. The severe shortage of affordable housing is hurting rural America’s ability to prosper, and it is imperative we direct more funding to address this housing shortage and finally bring our communities some relief.  “Against this backdrop, federal rural housing programs have shrunk to the point that only about 3,500 direct loans are available for low-income families to purchase or build their own home, the lowest level since 1957. Funding to preserve rental and farm labor housing is meager by any standard and by no means adequate to provide new housing opportunities or preserve existing housing resources,” wrote the Senators. “In the coming years, the number of maturing Section 515 mortgages will

The Affordable Housing and Homeownership Protection Act Would Tackle Housing Crisis by Creating Millions More Homes and Helping Main Street Compete with Wall Street

WASHINGTON, DC – As the nation’s housing shortage pushes home prices and rents to historic levels, a new Senate bill would provide tens of billions of dollars to help create millions of new homes for low-income Americans. U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI)and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are teaming up with several colleagues to introduce the Affordable Housing and Homeownership Protection Act (S. 3673).  This bill would generate up to $50 billion over ten years to help build and preserve approximately 3 million affordable housing units nationwide.  The bill would be fully paid for through a transfer tax on large investors who profit by purchasing sixteen single-family homes or more. Driven by a shortage of as many as 6.8 million homes nationwide, homes prices have surged 39% and rents 31% over the last four years, according to the National Association of Realtors and Zillow. Higher rents and fewer opportunities for homeownership are devastating for millions of families.  As housing costs skyrocket, more households are priced out of homeownership, while renters have less to spend on food, clothing, and other everyday necessities. Low-income Americans are particularly strained – the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates 73% of extremely low-income households spend more than half their income on housing. Unsurprisingly, homelessness has risen in line with housing prices and is up 15% since 2019. Unfortunately, federal investments in low-income housing are insufficient to solve this affordability crisis. Indeed, researchers at Harvard University found that the three largest federal housing programs serve nearly

Senators Smith, Lummis Seek Key Clarifications to Address Native American and Rural Homelessness, Overcrowding

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) sent a letter to Secretary Marcia Fudge urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help address homelessness in Native and rural communities and to provide clarity on the federal definition of homelessness. The Senators are the Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. The letter follows a bipartisan hearing led by Smith and Lummis on the  “State of Native American Housing” where witnesses described the severe homelessness and overcrowding issues facing rural and Native American communities.  “The stories we

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Mike Rounds Announce More Bipartisan Support for Legislation to Modernize and Reform Rural Housing Programs

Washington [9.19.23] – This week, Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) announced growing support for their bipartisan legislation to improve federal rural housing programs, cut red tape, and strengthen the supply of affordable housing. Their updated bill would represent the most significant Rural Housing Service reforms years, and has the support of a large bipartisan group of senators including eight members of the Banking Committee. New cosponsors include Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Steve Daines (R-MT), and John Fetterman (D-PA). “Without a safe, affordable place to live, nothing else

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith Reintroduce Legislation to Improve Fire Safety in Public Housing

WASHINGTON, D.C. [8.3.23] – U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar (both D-MN) reintroduced legislation to help install sprinkler systems in older public housing buildings. Companion legislation was also introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ 15) and John Rutherford (R-FL 05) with support from Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN 5). Smith originally introduced the Public Housing Fire Safety Act following the tragic Cedar High Apartments fire, which took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2019. The upper floors of the building, where the fire erupted, did not have sprinkler systems installed. “In the wake of the tragic

U.S. Senators Smith, Lummis Defend Homeowners Against Predatory Home Buyers

WASHINGTON. D.C.  – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) sent a letter to the National Association of Attorneys General recommending that state attorneys general take steps to protect homeowners from predatory home-buying practices. Senators Smith and Lummis were concerned by allegations that some franchises of HomeVestors of America, commonly recognized by their advertising catchphrase, “We Buy Ugly Houses,” were targeting elderly and ill homeowners. “Home equity represents more than a quarter of all household wealth in our country and we are deeply troubled by schemes that are all too eager to pilfer it,” wrote the Senators. “We

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