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Reader's view: Reduction of 'Renter's Credit' would hurt many

The board of Community Action Duluth is deeply concerned about a proposal to reduce "Renter's Credit." We need to stop asking our most vulnerable Minnesotans to bear so much of the cost of balancing the state's budget. The proposed cuts would har...

The board of Community Action Duluth is deeply concerned about a proposal to reduce "Renter's Credit."

We need to stop asking our most vulnerable Minnesotans to bear so much of the cost of balancing the state's budget. The proposed cuts would harm Minnesotans across the state, including seniors, people with disabilities, and those with low and moderate incomes.

Community Action Duluth serves more than 1,500 low-income people. We run two free tax sites, and many of our customers qualify for the Renter's Credit. The average annual income of our customers in 2008 was about $14,000. Low-income people pay property taxes in their rent payments, and Renter's Credit is important to economic stability.

Renter's Credit provides a reduction in property taxes to Minnesotans whose rent is high relative to income. While renters do not pay property taxes directly, Renter's Credit recognizes that owners of rental properties pass on the cost of property taxes to renters in the form of higher rents. In 2006, more than 274,000 Minnesota households received this tax credit; 28 percent included seniors and/or people with severe disabilities. More than $150 million was brought into local communities and businesses because of the Renter's Credit.

At a time when the state faces an economic downturn and a significant lack of affordable housing, renters in Minnesota cannot afford a 27 percent cut in the Renter's Credit. Many Minnesotans use Renter's Credit to meet basic needs, such as delayed dental care, school clothes and supplies, car repairs, bills and prescription drugs. Cutting the Renter's Credit harms Minnesota families.

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We, the board of Community Action Duluth, voted unanimously at our Feb. 4 meeting to oppose a cut to the Renter's Credit.

Marsha Hystead

Duluth

The writer is chairwoman of the board of Community Action Duluth. This letter also was signed by board members Laura Condon, Joanne Dahl Jokela, Jodi Broadwell, Tom Curran, Bill Kron, Ron Carlson, Joe Ferguson, Lanikka Pendelton, Leah Henricksen, Kenneth Udoibok and Russ Stover

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