As the first phase of the legislation session wraps up, lawmakers are hunkering down. In the coming weeks, they will be decide what to include in the final bonding bill package. Sending a letter to the editor is an effective way keep housing on lawmakers’ radar and raise awareness among the general public. We know what works to prevent and end homelessness. We know safe, decent, affordable housing should be the expectation for all Minnesotans. Your letter demonstrates the public will to ensure all Minnesotans have a place to call home.
Your letter can be a response to something that was already in the news, make a point that was omitted in an article, or disagree with or correct misinformation from a news story, editorial, or another letter. It helps increase understanding about the issue and increases the odds that a letter on the topic will be published. Thank you for sending a letter and “building” support for housing. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or ideas.
Sample points to include in your letter
- MN lawmakers should include $100 million for housing in the state’s bonding bill.
- Home matters. Housing is the foundation to achieve the rest of Minnesota’s priorities in education, health, and economic development.
- Vulnerable Minnesotans are hit hardest by the lack of affordable homes including seniors, people with disabilities, and children who comprise 50 percent of Minnesota’s homeless population.
- Investments in housing serve residents in rural, urban, and suburban areas. Bonds for housing has strong statewide, bipartisan support.
Pick your paper
You should pick one paper to send your letter. See List of Local Papers.
Recent news stories
- Legislative report on vets housing makes startling bold suggestions, Star Tribune, March 26, 2014
- Hennepin County expands help for sexually exploited youth, Star Tribune, March 25, 2014
- Brooklyn Park plans to open shelter for homeless kids, Star Tribune, March 20, 2014
- Report: Minn. has serious affordable housing problem, MPR, March 24
- New Report: Out of Reach 2014 “MN Apartments Least Affordable in the Nation for Minimum Wage Earners” Press Release and full report with county data
Tips for writing effective letters to the editor
- Respond directly to a recent article or commentary published within two days of a daily paper
- Focus on one important point or topic.
- Be brief.
- Be sure to follow the guidelines and word count limit of the target publication
- Remove non-essential word. For example, don’t say, “I think…” It’s obvious.
- Use verified facts and local data when possible.
- Create immediacy by indicating how readers will be affected by the issue you address when possible; try to balance criticism with a positive — ask readers for action when practical. This includes elected officials.
- Point people to a source for more information or to engage in action whenever practical.
- When writing to your local newspaper (not recommended for larger city or national publications), follow up with a polite phone inquiry about its status if it doesn’t appear within 4-5 days to ensure it was received and considered.
- If the publication publishes an online version, hyperlink the relevant websites or emails.
- Pay attention to letters and comments by others. Note effective and ineffective approaches (especially letters that effectively argue a position you oppose), style, length, etc.
- Speak in the language and to the literacy level of that publication’s readers.
Things to Avoid:
- Don’t overstate/exaggerate your points. One overstatement makes every following point suspect.
- Don’t insult your opponents.
- Avoid jargon and acronyms
- Never use all capital letters or bold text to emphasize a word. It will rarely be printed that way and may prevent your from being considered. You may italicize one or two words, but most papers will print it in plain text regardless.