By Tina Rucci, Advocacy Manager
At every stage of life, where we live is the foundation of our health, education and economic wellbeing. A safe, stable and affordable home enables all Minnesotans to thrive. However, 20,000 individuals and families experience homelessness on any given night — in every region across our state. Greater Twin Cities United Way works to ensure all instances of homelessness are rare, brief and nonrecurring, and we support and advocate for policies that prevent homelessness.
United Way continues to be a key community partner in advancing housing stability across Minnesota by funding housing services providers, helping people find a safe place to sleep via our 211 resource helpline and advocating at the legislature for policies that prevent homelessness.
Increased Housing Needs
We know the need for safe, stable, affordable housing is pervasive and growing:
- In 2021, United Way’s 211 resource helpline received over 260,000 calls related to housing needs.
- Over 554,000 Minnesota households pay more than they can afford on housing — over 30% of their income.
- Disparities in experiencing homelessness and accessing affordable housing disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and People of Color.
- Financial gaps are growing: Renter incomes rose just 1% between 2000 and 2019, while average rents increased by 14%.
Here are some examples of how we’re advancing our vision to prevent homelessness this session.
Homes for All
United Way is working alongside our partners at the Homes for All Coalition to advocate for housing stability and racial equity in our state’s housing system. Earlier this month, we testified to support housing infrastructure bonds, which would expand eligibility for affordable housing to those with low to moderate incomes. We also plan to support a bonding bill to construct, preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing once it becomes available later this session.
Homework Starts with Home
We also submitted a letter of support on the expansion of Homework Starts with Home a grant program focused on addressing homelessness and housing instability among students and their families, to include access to early childhood care and education programs. This expansion would provide critical supports to younger children when they are most vulnerable to environmental stress and adverse childhood experiences.
Unlocking Human Potential
A recent survey from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank found that a lack of access to affordable housing and quality, affordable early childhood care were the top two reasons why individuals were unable to join the workforce. We know a stable home is essential for educational and economic success, so our efforts will not only reduce the strain on our homelessness response system, but also help unlock our region’s educational and economic potential.
Investments that improve housing stability and prevent homelessness result in lasting impacts and improved long-term health, education and employment outcomes, which provide the critical foundation that all Minnesotans need to thrive.