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“Hey Liz, this is Stephanie,” said the voice on the other end of my cell phone when I answered recently.
It had been several years since I heard that voice. She’d been homeless then, a single mom of two preschool kids, working to put herself through college. She had big dreams. And frustrations with a system that seemed to be stacked against her. She’d attended Homeless Day on the Hill to share her story with lawmakers and she volunteered with us to gain work experience.
“I got a house!” She said now on the phone. “Renting? That’s great! Where?” “No, I have a house,” she said with emphasis on each word. “I am outside the bank! I just signed mortgage papers! I have a house! The kids will have their own bedrooms. We have a yard. I will have a garden. It’s only a ten-minute drive to work. I have a house!”
She was ecstatic. I was bawling. She put in hard work: blood, sweat, and tears. Definitely. She put her shoulder to the wheel and pushed harder when the going got rough. But she was calling me to thank you, to thank our collective advocacy efforts, to thank us for believing in people whose stories we may not know, whose successes we may not get to celebrate. You funded the advocacy that gave Stephanie a chance. Not just her, but thousands of stories like hers. This year alone, your support funded award-winning advocacy.
- You created or rehabbed 4,000 units of housing across the state.
- You removed barriers to education and job training for parents on public assistance.
- You raised the minimum wage to make it easier for workers to make the rent.
Your support powers the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. Now nine-strong, we have the staff capacity to coordinate our coalition partners and leverage the support of external allies. Together, we have proven over and over again that working together in coalition brings results, that statewide solutions bring real progress. The Homes for All campaign has boosted funding by $170 million over the past three years. $170 million in new resources! But, as you know, housing and services alone are not enough for housing stability. With Affirmative Options coalition, we have built a set of partners who have turned around decades of cuts to public assistance, and repurposed a hamster wheel of poverty programs into a ladder towards success:
- Passed a housing allowance for parents on public assistance.
- Made higher education a core part of the welfare-to-work program.
- Increased the exit level so families find secure footing as they move to self-sufficiency.
Every day I hear from people who have just as much potential and just as much drive as Stephanie did. All they need is a fair chance: access to affordable housing, good paying jobs, transportation, health care, and, for some of them, support or transitional services as they get back on their feet. Your financial support, at whatever level is meaningful to you, will deliver results that are meaningful to the 14,000 Minnesotans who are homeless or in temporary housing tonight.
Our staff and our advocacy partners are gearing up for an ambitious 2015 legislative session to increase funding by $39 million for housing stability and to secure transportation funds for striving families to help them get to school and work. Together we can build a Minnesota where every person has opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
Thank you for making progress possible.
Sincerely, Liz Kuoppala
P.S. Your support is desperately needed. Please send $35, $100, $250, or $500 by December 31st. Thank you!
Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless News