The Prosperity for All 2017 legislative request supports a $100 per month increase in Minnesota Family

LeAnn Littlewolf, Tribal Organizer in Duluth, MN—Constituents from the Bois Forte Tribal Nation community recently met with Senator Thomas Bakk (Senate District 03) to speak about the importance of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) in Tribal and rural communities and how Minnesota can strengthen this program. The meeting was held on January 20, 2017, in Tribal community space at the New Moon Supportive Housing program and attended by community members, service providers, and Tribal Council members to deliver a request to support the Prosperity for All 2017 legislative request.

MFIP cash assistance hasn’t increased since 1986 and nearly 75% of Minnesotans who access MFIP are children. The Prosperity for All 2017 legislative request supports a $100 per month increase in MFIP assistance. Also, many low-wage workers do not qualify for unemployment insurance. For parents without access to unemployment, MFIP can help a family steady themselves as they face a disruption in income. Without any cost of living increases in over 30 years, MFIP should be strengthened to help families as they work to be economically self-sufficient.

Dani Pieratos (Bois Forte Housing), Melissa Wright (Bois Forte Hearth Connection Homelessness Program), Viola Connor (Bois Forte community member) and Virgil Sohm (Bois Forte Behavioral Health) led the discussion on how MFIP participation can help families stabilize from a financial crisis to gain long-term economic security. This support can make all the difference to keep other important pieces of stability in place: housing, utilities, and family routines so critical to young children. MFIP can be accessed for a time-limited period and offers education and employment support.

Bois Forte community members addressed rural concerns of the added costs of living in remote areas. A reliable vehicle is essential to travel to work, access health care, and support their children in learning activities. These added costs can make it more difficult to deal with a financial crisis or to move out of generational poverty. Tribal constituents also gave voice to the historic economic disparities and root causes that stem from the impact of federal policies in Tribal communities.

Melissa and Tracie 1.20.17 (1)

Melissa Wright (Hearth Connection Bois Forte Homelessness Program Case Manager) and Tracie Chosa (Bois Forte New Moon Supportive Housing Case Manager) at the in-district meeting with Senator Bakk on January 20, 2017

Constituents delivered a direct request to Senator Thomas Bakk to support the Prosperity for All 2017 legislative agenda. Senator Bakk spoke about competing interests in the budget and the difficult decisions on priorities. Conversations with elected leaders on community issues are critical for policy change to help children and families successfully weather an immediate crisis and to build lifelong stability. A special thank you to the Bois Forte community and Senator Thomas Bakk for investing time in this important discussion. 

If you would like to see MFIP strengthened, here are some simple things you can do:

  • Endorse the Prosperity for All 2017 legislative request here
  • Write to your elected leaders and send a letter to the Editor in your local media to share your view on why it is important to strengthen MFIP
  • Meet with your elected leaders to tell them to strengthen MFIP
  • Register for Homeless day on the Hill to advocate and meet with your lawmaker

Find your legislators here

 

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