Everything in life is better when you have a stable place to call home—school, jobs, health. Sadly, 7,300 Minnesotans experienced homelessness last year (more than half of them children) and homelessness is growing alarmingly fast among our seniors.
Plus, 1 in every 4 Minnesota families spends more than they can afford on their housing. These families face painful choices like deciding whether to buy food or medicine. An unexpected car repair could mean they lose their housing altogether. We can—and must—do better.
You can tell our lawmakers to seize the golden opportunity in front of them and invest in the places Minnesotans call home by passing the Homes for All agenda this legislative session.
Homes for All is a bipartisan, statewide coalition of 175 community organizations, faith communities, local governments, and private developers. We work to end homelessness and make Minnesota the #1 state for housing affordability. This will require significant investments in our entire spectrum of housing: emergency shelter, supportive housing, affordable rental, and affordable homeownership.
Minnesota’s 31 Habitat for Humanity affiliates partner with families on affordable homeownership across the state—nearly 4,400 families in 30 years. We leverage resources from local churches, volunteers, donors, and public-private partnerships to invest in Habitat homeowners; who in turn contribute “sweat equity,” complete financial coaching, and pay mortgages that help build more homes.
At a recent Habitat home dedication ceremony, a little boy announced he needed to explore all the rooms and pick one for his grandma, “because she needs the BEST room.”
Wilder Research studied hundreds of Habitat homeowners in Minnesota and found they overwhelmingly report that their kids are doing better in school, they’re healthier, they’re saving more for the future, and they rely less on public assistance programs. The impacts grow greater each year a family owns their Habitat home.
Habitat for Humanity is active with Homes for All because there is such a tremendous social return on all forms of housing. Please contact your representatives and ask them to support these three Homes for All priorities.
First, fully fund the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency budget. These investments go towards preventing homelessness, stabilizing low-income renters, and counseling first-time homebuyers.
This includes the critical and flexible Challenge Fund, our state’s only financial tool for building new affordable housing in rural, urban and suburban communities. Habitat affiliates leverage Challenge Funds to make homeownership a reality for more families statewide. We applaud legislators for protecting these funds in the current conference committee negotiations.
Second, we strongly support $100 million in bonding to develop or preserve homes for over 3,000 Minnesota households, from young families to our aging neighbors. Housing is infrastructure that creates jobs and stabilizes communities. A final bonding package should include robust housing investments to meet the needs of our diverse, growing, and aging population.
Third, increase funding for emergency and supportive housing in the Health and Human Services budget. This will support people in transitional housing and those with serious mental illness.
Because we all benefit when we get housing right, we encourage our elected leaders to work together on this critical issue. The tremendous return on these investments will grow greater with each year and each generation to come.
President & CEO, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota