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.