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.
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 heard at our hearing are not isolated examples. Many Native and rural communities officially report low rates of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, but have high rates of doubling up and overcrowding,” wrote the Senators. “Doubling up and overcrowding are likely more prevalent in rural communities that have fewer emergency shelter options and limited transportation options, so people struggle to get to the shelters that do exist. Studies confirm that some of the highest rates of overcrowding are experienced by people who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native and on tribal lands. Although these situations differ from the ways homelessness is often found in non-Native and non-rural communities, we believe they warrant close attention.” Witness testimony described how some individuals are living in “fish houses” or “ice shanties,” in the face of not being able to find a safe, secure and affordable place to live. Witnesses shared that Native families
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 in your life works. Not your job, not your education, not your health,” said Smith. “We know that the housing crisis is hurting communities across the country, and the problem is particularly acute in rural places. This legislation is the direct result of bipartisan hearings and conversations with stakeholders who helped identify ways we can make federal rural housing programs work better for people struggling to find a safe, affordable place to live. I’m excited about the growing support for this package of rural housing reforms” “I am pleased with the bipartisan coalition that is building around this commonsense legislation to update USDA’s Rural Housing Service,” said Rounds. “Homeownership is part of the American dream and a key to building wealth. This legislation makes important improvements and updates that will create and preserve affordable housing opportunities in South Dakota. As we face an affordable housing crisis across the nation, I
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
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
Senators Smith, Shaheen Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Access to Affordable Housing for Families in Rural Areas
[Washington, DC] – This week, U.S. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced legislation to ensure that thousands of low-income tenants in rural areas are able to maintain access to safe and affordable housing. The Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act would protect access to affordable housing for families in rural areas that are often elderly or disabled, who are at risk of losing rental assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS). “Without access to housing, nothing else in your life works. Not your job, your health, your education or your
Senators Smith, Rounds Unveil Major Bipartisan Package to Modernize and Update Rural Housing Programs
Washington [5.2.23] – This week, Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced significant bipartisan legislation to improve federal rural housing programs, cut red tape, and strengthen the supply of affordable housing. The legislation would represent the most significant Rural Housing Service reforms years. “Without a safe, affordable place to live, nothing else in your life works. Not your job, not your education, not your health,” said Senator Smith. “We know that the housing crisis is hurting communities across the country, and the problem is particularly acute in rural places. This legislation is the direct result of bipartisan hearings