MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Senate on Monday unanimously passed a housing bill that focuses on ending Gov. Tim Walz’s eviction moratorium and improving housing affordability.

The $115 million housing budget bill, authored by Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), passed 66-0 and will now go to Walz’s desk for the final signature.

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“Ending the Governor’s Emergency Powers and the Eviction Moratorium has been the top priority for the Senate, and this bill is the key piece of our agenda to recover from the COVID pandemic,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R- East Gull Lake) said. “This balanced approach includes support for housing providers and connects those who need financial help with resources available. It was absolutely unfair and wrong for the Governor to expect housing providers to bear this financial burden for so long and I’m glad we’re finally making them whole.”

Finding an “off ramp” for the state’s eviction moratorium was one of the priorities for the Minnesota Legislature’s special session this month — and it is indeed included in the passed housing bill. The off ramp will be completed in stages and will start the day the bill is signed into law. It will end after 105 days.

Those who are eligible for rental assistance, and have pending applications, cannot be evicted while assistance is still pending.

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Draheim says that a big part of the legislation is prioritizing affordable home ownership.

“As a state we need to be doing everything we can to lay a path to affordable home ownership for every Minnesotan,” Draheim said. “Owning your own home has been proven to lead to more wealth, kids doing better in school, better mental and physical health, and more community involvement. These are all things we strive for and home ownership is the foundation to meet these goals.”

One major provision in the bill includes providing $100 million in housing infrastructure bonds, designating $18.33 million of it for single-family homes and $15 million for manufactured home park acquisition, improvement and infrastructure.

Other provisions include:

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– Allowing federally recognized American Indian tribes in Minnesota and tribal housing corporations to be eligible for housing grants in a natural disaster area.
– Allocating $3.25 million over the biennium to the Workforce Homeownership Program for the development of workforce and affordable homeownership projects across Minnesota.
– Increase the income limitation under the definition of “persons and families of low and moderate income” to 115% of the greater of state median income, or area or county median income.