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. 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 2019 Cedar High Apartments Fire, I joined Senator Smith in introducing legislation to ensure that buildings have properly installed fire and sprinkler systems. Every second counts during a house fire, and with up-to-date systems, more lives can be saved,” said Klobuchar. “We need to continue these efforts by passing the Public Housing Fire Safety Act to bring us one step closer towards ensuring that buildings are safe for all residents.” “The fire at Cedar High Apartments was a tragic loss for the Cedar-Riverside community,” said Smith. “In the aftermath of the tragedy, I began connecting with people closely affected the fire and looking into ways to prevent it from happening again. This bill gets to the root of what we need to do: incentivize public housing authorities to install sprinkler systems and give them the support they need to do it.”  “One of the most important investments our federal government

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 appreciate the dedication of the National Association of Attorneys General to safeguarding consumers and respectfully request that you continue work to put a stop to unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, and ensure that HomeVestors and other similar firms are not allowed to take advantage of our nation’s most vulnerable homeowners. Americans work hard to build equity in their homes and should be protected from those seeking to reap the benefits of their investments.” The letter details alarming and misleading practices wherein some franchisees allegedly targeted vulnerable homeowners and communities, deceived and coerced homeowners to close sales, and employed complex legal maneuvers to prevent their victims from backing out of sales despite unfair conditions. The letter recommends that state attorneys general inform consumers, undertake a coordinated response to the repeated complaints, and advocate for tools that empower homeowners. Earlier this week, Senator Smith raised the allegations with the Director

Sen. Tina Smith Fights Against Federal Proposal to Raise Rent, Impose Strict Requirements on More Than 72,000 Minnesota Households

U.S. Senator Tina Smith called on Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson to scrap a proposal that would raise rent and impose strict requirements on 72,400 Minnesota households, and millions more across the country. After Secretary Carson released his plan that would hurt millions living in federal housing, Sen. Smith called on him on Tuesday to scrap these efforts and instead work to improve access to affordable, stable housing for Minnesotans and people across the nation. “If enacted, this proposal would leave even more low income people without stable homes, including seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and children,” wrote Sen. Smith. “Nationally, 4.1

U.S. Senator Tina Smith: We Must Ensure Veterans Receive Full Housing Benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/03/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is helping to lead a bipartisan push to get the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to quickly clarify how it intends to “make whole” the more than 360,000 veterans in Minnesota and across the country who are at risk of being denied the full housing benefits they’ve earned. In response to recent reports that the VA plans to withhold retroactive payments for missed or underpaid monthly housing benefits from some veterans because it would create a backlog, Sen. Smith joined 12 of her Congressional colleagues in asking the VA’s Inspector General to investigate

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, Colleagues Push to End Shutdown Citing Over 4 Million Who Rely on Affordable Housing Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. [1/18/19]–Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), in a letter to President Trump signed by her and over 170 Members of Congress, emphasized the direct and immediate consequences of the shutdown on housing security for millions of households across the country. Both the short-term operations and long-term viability of affordable housing programs are dependent on Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance initiatives. An estimated 2.2 million low-income households are among those at risk of eviction, including housing for thousands of veterans, seniors, and people living with disabilities.  The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Rep.

U.S. Sens. Smith, Merkley Introduce Bill to Protect Consumers From Predatory Rent-to-Own Housing Contracts

Senators’ Legislation Would Establish Standards for Predatory Rent-to-Own Contracts, Which Have Traditionally Targeted Underserved Communities and Lower-Income Americans WASHINGTON, D.C. [02/27/19]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have introduced the Residential Rent-to-Own Protection Act to protect consumers in Minnesota and across the country from predatory rent-to-own housing contracts. Their measure would allow rent-to-own residents—many of whom are often people of color or low-income Americans—to seek damages from landlords who violate contracts and put protections in place to ensure these residences are safe. “Rent-to-own contracts can create valuable pathways to homeownership and security, but they don’t always protect consumers. We want

en_USEnglish