The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness published the 56-page Heading Home: Minnesota Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness on 12/19/13, citing the need for increased investment in affordable housing and rental assistance. The plan contains 12 strategies to prevent and end homelessness in Minnesota.
The first strategy identified in the plan is to pursue increased investments in affordable housing and rental assistance. This foundational strategy is echoed by the Homes For All coalition which requested $100 million in bonding for affordable housing during the upcoming session.
The report details how the need for affordable housing is great, citing that more than 10,000 Minnesotans are homeless on any given night, and another 248,000 pay more than half their income on housing. Minnesotans experiencing homelessness state that the number one reason they are homeless is that they cannot afford housing (Wilder interview data). Whereas the private market is guided by the laws of supply and demand, and will charge as much as it can for rent, Minnesotans need a safety net of affordable housing to provide for those whom the market doesn't serve.
This investment in Minnesota would be good for the short term. It helps homeless children and youth who need stability to succeed in school. It provides families and single adults, including veterans, with stable homes so that they can secure stable employment or essential services.
This investment in Minnesota would also be good for the long term, because homelessness is expensive. The report states that "by turning expenditures on homelessness to investments in housing stability, we can both advance the well-being of Minnesotans and maximize the value of public investments in housing."
The specific actions suggested under this foundational strategy of pursing increased state investments are to invest in the preservation of existing subsidized affordable housing, which may need recapitalization and/or physically restoration; seek bonding for new housing creation; develop a funding plan; and incent private sector landlords to rent to more families and individuals who are at risk of, or are, experiencing homelessness.
Read more about the remaining eleven strategies within the full report. Also check out the summary by Cathy ten Broeke, Minnesota's Director to Prevent and End Homelessness, on the Phillips Family Foundation blog.