There are eight weeks left in the legislative session and our momentum has never been stronger. Last week, MCH hosted our largest Homeless Day on the Hill in history. More than 800 of you turned out. Governor Walz AND Lt. Governor Flanagan joined us and rallied the crowd. Our hearing room was PACKED. When the first overflow room reached capacity, another one opened up. I heard the best part of viewing testimonies from the overflow room was that cheering wasn’t against the rules.
Of all the impressive numbers and names from that day, none stand out to me as much as when the experts with lived experience shared their personal stories. When our lawmakers hear their voices, all of us benefit.
Together, we have work to do. This week, Wilder Research released the 2018 Homeless Study initial findings. The results should alarm and activate you.
- The total number of people experiencing homelessness across the state has increased by 10% since 2015. There are now more Minnesotans experiencing homelessness than ever before.
- Minnesota’s unsheltered population has spiked dangerously since 2015. The total number of unsheltered people increased by 62% and the rate of unsheltered children went up 56%.
- Children and youth continue to make up nearly half of Minnesota’s overall homeless population.
Right now, Team MCH is hard at work on two issues that impact those with the least resources and fewest choices:
- A $15 million increase to the Emergency Services Program (ESP). ESP is Minnesota’s primary source for emergency shelter and is currently funded at just $844,000 per year. Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, 63 of them do not have a fixed site shelter.
- A $200/month increase to the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). MFIP is Minnesota’s welfare-to-work program which provides temporary cash assistance to children and their parents who are striving toward full-time employment. This program is the most commonly accessed program among families experiencing homelessness. MFIP has not been increased since 1986.
Today, Governor Walz shared his revised budget proposal based on changes to the February economic forecast.
Cuts were made to several spending proposals. Despite this, Governor Walz has maintained his commitment to two of our most important priorities: Increasing MFIP cash assistance and all $26M of his original commitments to the Homes for All appropriations requests.
As lawmakers on both sides of the aisle refine their priorities, your voice matters more than ever before. Homeless Day on the Hill was a powerful rallying cry but it can’t end there. It will take longer than one day of advocacy to end this solvable problem. It’s not the time to rest. Stay committed to MCH between now and the end of the session. Lawmakers in all three branches of government need our support and our voices to remind them that where we live impacts everything.