WASHINGTON, [1.18.22] – Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (both D-Minnesota) announced new funding for programs that will allow Minneapolis and Hennepin County to eliminate housing-related hazards. Programs in Minneapolis and Hennepin County will receive $2 million each.
“In Minnesota, we know how important it is to have a safe, warm place to sleep every night,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This funding will help address health and safety hazards that are too frequently ignored, putting Minnesota families at risk. I’ll keep working to support these vital programs and ensure hazards are examined and repaired in a timely manner.”
“Housing-related hazards, from indoor air quality and radon to fire and falling hazards, are often overlooked while their solutions are often underfunded,” said Sen. Smith. “I have long advocated for solutions to remove and repair health hazards, particularly in Minnesota’s most vulnerable communities. These programs are a tremendous step in the right direction towards addressing these issues for Minnesota families.”
“Home is a place of refuge, especially in challenging times like these,” said Marion Greene, Chair of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. “This is an exciting opportunity for Hennepin County to grow our work making sure all people are safe in their homes. Moreover, communities of color are disproportionately harmed by home health hazards like mold, radon, and lead paint. This grant will help Hennepin County target households who need this help the most, reducing racial disparities in health and housing. We are glad to have federal partners invest in this work.”
“On behalf of the Minneapolis Health Department, we are grateful and excited to receive this award,” said Minneapolis Health Department Commissioner Heidi Ritchie. “The grant will allow us to make critical repairs and improvements in at least 120 homes in neighborhoods that are both disproportionately impacted and traditionally marginalized. Our Lead and Healthy Homes team has recognized that COVID has dramatically increased the amount of time people spend in their homes, meaning it is more important than ever to make homes safe for children and families in our community.”
Senator Klobuchar is a vocal advocate for increasing our nation’s affordable housing supply. In March of 2021, she introduced the bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). This legislation would create a new grant program that would provide funding to help localities develop and implement comprehensive housing policy plans.
Since coming to the Senate, Senator Smith has been a leader on health and safety in housing, and she is the Chair of the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee. Last July, she led a subcommittee hearing on issues surrounding healthy housing.
The funding announced today, available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Healthy Homes Production Grant Program, will enable Minneapolis and Hennepin Counties to address multiple childhood diseases and injuries in the home by focusing on housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion, rather than addressing a single hazard at a time. These grants are an important tool to ensure underserved communities can mitigate the impacts of unhealthy housing, preserve affordable housing moving forward, and ensure that future generations can reach their full potential.
Below are highlights on the funding and plans for each jurisdiction:
- Program will serve 120 units
- 29 different hazards will be assessed with radon, fire, and fall hazards to be prioritized for repair.
- Funds will target households below 80% of the area median income (AMI) in the Near North & Powderhorn neighborhoods
- Program will serve 150 units below 80% AMI
- Repairs will address fall prevention, indoor air quality (ventilation & radon), moisture (plumbing repair, mold), & accessibility
- The award will supplement existing federal funding to address health & safety hazards in 33% more homes per year.