On March 13, in partnership with the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Greater Twin Cities United Way joined more than 200 organizations and nearly 800 individuals for Homeless Day on the Hill. This annual event is a day where citizens and advocates from across the state come together to meet with legislators, share stories, and raise awareness about the importance of preventing and ending homelessness. United Way was a proud sponsor of this year’s event.
The day kicked off with a special music performance by Travis Decory from Ain Dah Yung Center, a United Way partner that provides a healing place for American Indian youth and families to thrive in safety and wholeness – including several programs that focus on housing.
Senta Leff, Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless and Acooa Ellis, United Way’s SVP of Community Impact welcomed attendees and shared more about the importance of working in partnership to prevent and end homelessness.
Both leaders expressed their thanks and appreciation for all in attendance—particularly those individuals and families who’ve directly experienced homelessness.
“I’ve attended this event a few times over the years now, and the thing that I look forward to most is having folks who are directly experiencing challenges share their story and speak their truth,” Ellis said. “It’s incredibly powerful."
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan stopped by to share messages about the importance of housing investments and their positive impact on the lives of individuals, families and the greater community.
“It’s a moral imperative to make sure people have a safe place that they can call home, a safe place to raise their children,” Walz said. “It’s absolutely foundational.”
Lt. Gov. Flanagan highlighted the interconnection between housing and other aspects of life – remarking on how she was positively impacted by public programs such as Section 8 housing, the Minnesota Family Investment Program, and SNAP during her childhood.
"I'm standing before you today as Lieutenant Governor because of those investments," Flanagan said. "When you invest in children, when you increase family income, you improve child outcomes—and when we lift individuals out of poverty the state does better."
Program participants from the Link spoke about the importance of being part of creating solutions for their own lives. A United Way partner and a member of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, The Link works with youth and families to overcome the impacts of poverty and social injustice.
Fatima Moore, Director of Public Policy at the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless provided an overview of the Homes for All legislative agenda, which focuses on addressing needs along the full continuum of housing, including: preventing homelessness, building and preserving affordable rental homes, and preparing first-time homebuyers.
To close out the morning, attendees prepared for meetings with their legislators with tips from members of Street Voices of Change, which is comprised of groups of individuals who have personal experiences with homelessness who come together to make positive changes in the lives of people experiencing homelessness.