The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness released an updated two-year action plan on Thursday, January 28 detailing strategies and actions for 2016 and 2017. The Council, which includes eleven state agency Commissioners, the State Director to Prevent and End Homelessness, and the Lieutenant Governor, represents a devoted effort from the highest levels of state government, and this is reflected in the ambition and scope of the plan itself. The updates are organized around eight cross-cutting priorities and four population goals:
Of particular note in light of the recent release of the Homes for All coalition’s 2016 agenda is the first priority listed, which will call for the creation of 5,000 additional housing opportunities. In previous years, the housing community has seen the investment of $100 million in bonding that went to create and preserve more than 4,000 units of affordable and supportive housing. Advocates hope to see that investment grow in 2016 as the state steps up to meet the challenge of ending homelessness.
The statewide Point-in-Time (PIT) survey conducted on January 25, 2015 found that more than 7,500 Minnesotans are experiencing homelessness on any given night. This number represents a 10 percent decrease in overall homelessness since 2014, and the PIT survey further revealed that veteran homelessness had declined an incredible 54 percent between 2010 and 2015. Despite these victories, however, the survey also revealed a 27 percent increase in the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness, and a nearly 6 percent increase in unsheltered homelessness.
A key element of the Heading Home plan is its focus on developing strategies to prevent homelessness from occurring, and to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. The work of communities like those in Itasca County to develop the Beacon Hill supportive housing project is just one of the efforts around the state that already exists to provide stable housing alternatives. Advocates hope the Heading Home plan will help bolster housing initiatives like those happening in Itasca County, ensuring that communities have the resources and networks available to ensure safe and stable homes for their residents.
The Council plans to develop implementation measures for the priorities and goals listed above by June 2016. A PDF of the full Heading Home: Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness (2017-2017) can be found here or by visiting the Heading Home Minnesota website.