On January 22, Governor Dayton unveiled his budget proposal for 2014-2015. While the budget signals a willingness to consider housing needs, advocates have their work cut out for them to ensure the legislature makes a $50 million strategic investment in creating housing and preventing homelessness across Minnesota.
MHP, along with the Homes for All coalition of housing advocates, service providers and developers, believes making a dent in the tremendous housing need in our state will require a
- $25 million increase in funding for Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; and
- $25 million increase for four Department of Human Services (DHS) programs that provide services for homeless people.
With a one-time-only increase of $13 million in the budget for Minnesota Housing and no increase for the four key DHS programs, Governor Dayton's budget proposal falls far short of what's needed.
Now that the Governor's budget has been released, it's a good time for advocates to reach out to their legislators with calls, emails, and visits. Letters to the editor of local media are also helpful. Each time someone reaches out, it helps remind legislators that we must stabilize families, prevent homelessness, and create workforce housing. For example:
- Half of Minnesota renters pay more than they can afford for their housing, according to HUD standards.
- Homelessness among families, at least in Hennepin County where data is available, reached a decade high in 2012.
- Building affordable housing creates jobs and makes it easier for children to learn in schools, which means that it's good for all of us.