Did you know that before 1981, homelessness was practically non-existent in the United States? In Minnesota, dozens of homeless shelters opened for the first time in the winter of 1981-1982.
1950s: Outdated, state-operated psychiatric hospitals closed by the federal government. Too few county-operated psychiatric hospitals open, causing a huge spike in the number of mentally ill homeless Americans. [i]
1963: Federally funded urban renewal projects demolished skid row housing units across the country. Ten thousand skid row housing units were destroyed in Minneapolis on Nicollet, Washington and Hennepin avenues. [ii]
1973: Minimum wage peaked at $9.72 per hour (inflation adjusted). [iii]
1981: More than 11,000 workers were fired by the federal government during the Air Traffic Controllers strike. This marked a trend of unions losing collective bargaining power for fair wages and benefits.[iv]
1981: St. Stephen’s church first opens “temporary” shelter in Minneapolis.
1983: The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) is cut $65 billion since the late 1970s. Domestic spending is slashed by $140 billion. Funding for HUD, unemployment and disability insurance, food stamps and family welfare is cut. [v]
1982: Our Saviour’s, Simpson and many other Minneapolis churches open “temporary” shelters.
1986: 10.8 million industrial workers had lost their jobs since 1981 due to factory closings or overseas relocations.[vii]
2000: The top 1% of Americans hold 33% of the wealth, up from 20% in 1976.[viii]
2005: Minimum wage is $5.15 per hour.[ix]
2008: U.S. housing market and economy collapse.