The regular session of the 2015 Minnesota state legislature came to a close late Monday night with a flurry of bills being passed by the House and the Senate and sent to Governor Dayton for his signature or veto. It was a mixed bag for Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless priorities at the Capitol this year in terms of legislative outcomes – we moved forward on expanding investments in housing and services, but didn’t secure the MFIP cash assistance increase we advocated for.

Here’s a quick overview of what we accomplished:

HOMES FOR ALL

This year, your advocacy secured a $13 million boost for housing and homeless services: in total, Homes for All priorities will receive $24 million more in 2016-2017 than the last budget cycle. New funds will help thousands of Minnesotans access safe, stable, affordable housing.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the Department of Human Services and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency funding.

2016-2017 Homes for All DHS Increases (all base funding):

  • Long Term Homeless Supportive Services Fund: $2m
  • Homeless Youth Act: $2m/biennium
  • Housing with Supports for Adults with Serious Mental Illness (HSASMI): $4.654m in 16-17/$6.146m in 18-19 (Governor’s recommendatioHomes for Allns)
  • Transitional Housing Program: Base
  • Emergency Services Program: $500k/biennium

TOTAL: 2016: $9.154m; 2017 and beyond: $10.646m

2016-2017 Homes for All MHFA Program Increases (base funding unless noted):

  • FHPAP: $1.314m
  • Housing Trust Fund: $1.89m (also $2m one-time for Homeless/Highly-Mobile Student Pilot in 16-17)
  • Challenge Fund: $7.444m (also $2m one-time for Governor’s Housing Job Growth Initiative in 16-17) and no changes to language (as proposed by House)
  • Single Family Rehab: Base
  • Bridges: Base
  • Capacity Building: Base ($500k/biennium for HMIS)

TOTAL base increase over 2014-2015: $10.648m (also $4m one-time 16-17 funding)

While the DHS portion of the Homes for All agenda was signed into law by Governor Dayton on Friday afternoon, it’s still unclear whether he’ll sign the Jobs & Economic Development bill that was sent to his desk – environmental groups and others are advocating for a veto.

If we go into a special session and Homes for All items are on the table, we’ll be sure to let you know immediately.

PROSPERITY FOR ALL

MFIP families will not receive a $100 a month cash assistance increase as a result of this session. However, the Prosperity for All coaliProsperity for All PPT.001tion did secure historic bipartisan support, extensive media coverage, and advocacy from leadership in the Governor’s office and in the Minnesota Senate.

There is good news for some families: An MFIP Child Support Income Disregard bill did pass at the last minute. This means, families receiving child support payments will no longer have cash assistance reduced, up to $200/month per household.

(More silver lining: because of legislation passed in 2013, families enrolled in MFIP who do not live in subsidized housing will receive a $110/month housing allowance beginning July 1, 2015.)

When naming “to do” items remaining after the Health and Human Services bill was passed on the Senate floor, Senator Lourey (the chair of that committee) named MFIP as one of two major priorities. We are optimistic about what we’ll be able to accomplish together in the future on this issue.

Of course, our work at the Minnesota Legislature will continue. We’ll need to be back next session for sure to continue our advocacy on both our Homes for All and Prosperity for All work.

The progress of this session couldn’t have been achieved without your help – the staff of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is deeply thankful for the advocacy of our member organizations, our board members, and our allies in communities across the entire state. Please enjoy a little break, and we look forward to continuing our powerful work together over the interim and into next session.

– Atom Robinson (atom@mnhomelesscoalition.org)

Director of Outreach and Campaigns