2021 Legislative Agenda Outcomes

Thank you for all of the support on the MCH policy agenda during the long budget session at the State Capitol this year. While this past year has been difficult for many, we want to highlight some of the victories your advocacy was able to accomplish. You can learn more about it with our new Session FAQ, but here’s the breakdown:

Emergency Services Program

In the recently passed Health and Human Services budget, we were able to work with our partners in the Homes for All Coalition, as well as many partners across other organizations, to secure an increase of $12 million per biennium in on-going funding for the Emergency Services Program. As you may know, the base budget for this program per year was a mere $844,000, with an additional $3 million in one time funding passed in the 2019 legislative session. This is an absolutely historic investment in our shelter system in Minnesota.  We want to thank our Legislative authors, Rep. Mike Howard and Sen. Paul Utke, as well as the chairs of the committees, Rep. Tina Liebling, Rep. Jen Schultz, Rep. Aisha Gomez, Sen. Michelle Benson, and Sen. Jim Abeler for their commitment through this historic budget increase to providing safe and dignified shelter and to getting people into stable homes quickly. We will continue to work toward full funding through this program and commit to working with the Department of Human Services to ensure that the funding is reaching those in need of services.

Shelter Capital Dollars

In the HHS budget, we were able to again work with a large variety of stakeholders to develop a new pot of money specifically for Shelter Capital. This new pot of money will flow through the Department of Human Services and will have $1 million per year in that fund. As the funding announcements are shared, we will be working with the Department to ensure that the application for these capital dollars is readily available and accessible. Once the application for these dollars is open, we will be sure to let folks know. This is a huge win for a state that has had no prior investment in their shelter capital, and we are committing to advocate for additional capital resources in the upcoming bonding session in 2022.

Housing Supports Absence Policy Change

We had a victory on a policy change for the Housing Support Program. This past year, there was a COVID-19 waiver in the absence policy for people seeking medical treatment. Through our partnership with Homes for All, Catholic Charities, and others, we successfully extended the length of time that participants can be away from their home while participating in medical treatment. This is a common sense approach to supporting the health, mental health and addiction recovery that so many organizations support and encourage; furthermore, it follows best practices for harm reduction and the Housing First model of serving people transitioning from homelessness.  Without this waiver, people were choosing between healthcare and their housing since many treatment options exceed the 18 days.  The policy changes from 18 days at a time, or 60 days in a calendar year, to 92 days with the possibility of extensions based on a review by the Commissioner of Human Services. We know that housing = healthcare, and we are so excited that people will no longer have to choose between the two while in the Housing Support Program.

Housing Supports Base Rate Increase

In the Housing Support Program, we were able to get an increase in the base rate for people living in scattered site housing. This rate increase will be $50 and is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2022. This victory is critical in the effort to keep pace with increasingly high rents across Minnesota; tenants in this program will be able to maintain their housing access.  Housing Support is an essential program in the continuum of housing programs/services to ensure that people at risk of homelessness are stably housed. Thank you to our legislative champions, Sen. Utke and Rep. Her, for their tireless work on this issue this session!

Bonds for Housing

Another huge investment to create homes has been achieved again this year! As you may recall, $116M in bonding to create and preserve homes occurred last October. It’s an incredible victory to see that another $100M will be invested in homes once again. While this year wasn’t set to be a typical bonding year, Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIB) only need a simple majority to pass both chambers of the legislature. MCH, along with Homes for All and partners across the State, continued to advocate for these essential investments needed to create affordable homes for Minnesotans

Shelter Residents Bill of Rights Task Force

MCH participated in the Homes for All Legislative Task Force on a Shelter Residents Bill of Rights, which was completely led by people with lived experience primarily from Street Voices of Change and Freedom from the Streets. These organizations used their collective activism to secure a major step forward in equitable treatment of shelter guests in the housing bill by securing funding for a task force to convene people with lived experience, providers of shelter, state agencies, and other advocates to establish recommendations for a statewide bill of rights for people entering shelter. The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness will convene the task force. Appointments to the task force must be made by August 1st of this year, with recommendations delivered to State Lawmakers in time for the next legislative session. Thank you to Rep. Keeler and Sen. Port for carrying this bill, and thank you to the Chairs of the housing committees for listening to the voices of people with lived experience when crafting this important legislation.

Youth and Family Homeless Prevention Aid

MCH is thrilled to announce that the $20m/year starting on July 1, 2023 for homeless youth prevention passed in the Taxes omnibus bill. This bill, led by Preventing Homelessness Chair Aisha Gomez, creates a funding stream from a new area of the State Budget through county tax aid. This  brings a completely new pot of money to the table to help youth under 24 and their families stay in stable housing or find stable housing quickly. This pot of money will allow counties, a contiguous group of counties, and a number of other eligible partners including cities, tribes, and nonprofits to partner to create new programs to keep our youth and families in stable homes. Thank you for the tireless work on this bill to Chair Aisha Gomez!

Recuperative Care Model Development

MCH advocated in support of our partners at Hennepin Healthcare on their priority to develop a recuperative care model for people experiencing homelessness. Often, when people are experiencing homelessness, there are coexisting conditions that can require hospitalization or medical treatment. However, when the treatment is over there may be no safe place to recover from that procedure. This policy change will allow Hennepin Healthcare to define and develop a recuperative care model, create partnerships between health care providers and shelter providers, and secure beds for people experiencing homelessness so they are able to recover safely from medical incidents. Thank you to our partners at Hennepin Healthcare for the foresight in developing this model of care that has tremendous potential for replication across the State.

2021 Legislative Agenda

Download the 2021 MCH Legislative Agenda Here
  • Download the ESP One-Pager with additional messaging here
  • Download the Shelter Capital One-Pager with additional messaging here
  • Download the Housing Support One-Pager here (created by Catholic Charities of St Paul & Minneapolis)

Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) is in collaboration with over 100 member organizations throughout the state. We are a bipartisan organization supporting state policy that promotes housing stability and economic security across Minnesota. Shelter saves lives. Housing ends homelessness. MCH will support and defend legislation that protects resources utilized by low-wealth and under-resourced communities, including communities of color and/or Indigenous communities during the 2021 legislative session.

2021 MCH Agenda: 

  • $15M Emergency Services Program – Investment to strengthen the Emergency Services Program
    • H.F. 315S.F. 455– $15M for ESP ongoing to the base
    • H.F. 3 & H.F. 42 Includes $10M for COVID-19 relief into ESP
    • Download the ESP One-Pager with additional messaging here
  • $50M Shelter Capital – Investment to preserve and expand homeless shelters across the state
    • H.F. 21 | S.F. 1994– $25M Cash for Shelter Capital
    • H.F. 2373 – $25M Bonding for new Shelter Infrastructure Bonds (SIB’s)
    • Download the Shelter Capital One-Pager with additional messaging here
  • Housing Support Program – Investment to support and sustain quality affordable housing costs that strengthen lives and communities
    • H.F. 601 Housing Supports modification; ($100/month for supportive housing, a waiver for absences)
    • S.F. 319 – Housing supports modification; ($100/month for supportive housing, a waiver for absences)
  • Support the full Homes for All Legislative Agenda
    • Full H4A agenda on the website here

Click here or read below for full descriptions of the MCH agenda items, and click here for MCH’s 2021 Legislative Overview video

In 2021, our priorities include expanding emergency shelter beds to ensure no one has to sleep outside, investing in programs that cultivate long-term stability, and guaranteeing everyone in our community has a permanent place to call home.

$15M Emergency Services Program
Investment to strengthen the Emergency Services Program 

Shelter saves lives. Housing ends homelessness. Strengthening the Statewide Emergency Services Program with an increase of $15M per biennium will empower communities across the state to find creative, flexible solutions that address homelessness in our Minnesota communities. 

Emergency shelters are the starting point to gaining long term stability. Stays in a shelter are on a short–term basis (usually less than three months); homeless shelters provide an individual or family experiencing homelessness with a clean, safe place to stay. The Emergency Services Program (ESP)  is the most flexible source of funds that allows for emergency shelters to be the starting point to long term stability. All across Minnesota, shelters and homeless service providers desperately need the resources to provide critical services to save lives. Institute for Community Alliance’s research stated that children under 18 make up a larger share of the population in a shelter in rural areas (35%), compared to suburban or urban areas (28% and 14%), and 63% of the total persons in a shelter in the report period were people of color.* The Emergency Services Program allows organizations and local communities to meet the local needs of people experiencing homelessness by providing funding that supports the operations, staffing, and resources to support families, individuals, and seniors. Download the ESP One-Pager with additional messaging here

  • H.F. 315 – $15M for ESP ongoing to the base
  • H.F. 3 & H.F. 42 Includes $10M for COVID-19 relief into ESP
  • S.F. 455 Senate File for $15M for ESP ongoing to the base
$50M Shelter Capital
Investment to preserve and expand homeless shelters across the state 

Shelter saves lives. Housing ends homelessness. Investing in Shelter Capital expands and preserves temporary housing options like shelters for families and individuals experiencing homelessness, and form pathways to hope and long-term housing stability.

Emergency homeless shelters generate a short-term solution for individuals and families sleeping or dying outside, and they become the starting point to gaining long-term stability. Preserving and expanding homeless shelter beds will provide immediate and temporary housing for our low-wealth communities in Minnesota. Currently, Minnesota does not have enough shelter beds for individuals and families who need a temporary place to stay safe. 80 of 87 Minnesota counties do not have enough shelter beds for individuals experiencing homelessness. 1 in 4 people experiencing homelessness are not able to stay in a shelter, and there is an increase to homelessness across the state; 36% increase in Greater MN and a 92% increase in the Twin Cities Metro.** Homeless shelters represent a significant gap within the continuum of housing and services to meet the needs of our children, families and seniors in Minnesota. We need to generate a short-term solution for individuals and families sleeping or dying outside with an investment to Shelter Capital. Download the Shelter Capital One-Pager with additional messaging here

  • H.F. 21 | S.F. 1994– $25M Cash for Shelter Capital
  • H.F. 2373 – $25M Bonding for new Shelter Infrastructure Bonds (SIB’s)
Housing Support Program
Investment to support and sustain quality affordable housing costs that strengthen lives and communities

The Housing Support program exists to prevent homelessness and help people obtain housing stability. It helps pay for housing costs for seniors and adults with disabilities who have low incomes. More than 4,300 individuals currently receive Housing Support in community settings, and that number is increasing. We can strengthen Housing Support to benefit more residents and landlords across the state by increasing base rate funding and waiving temporary absence requirements for individuals in need of healthcare treatment.

  • H.F. 601 House File for Housing Supports ($100/month for board & lodge, a waiver for absences)
  • S.F. 319 – Housing supports modification; ($100/month for board & lodge, a waiver for absences)

Homes for All

The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is a supporter of the Homes for All (H4A) legislative agenda. The Homes for All Coalition is comprised for 270+ organizations representing every county in the state. The H4A endorsing members represent affordable housing developers, shelter providers, organizations led by people with lived experiences, tenants’ rights organizations, mental health and disability organizations, faith communities, local units of government, philanthropic organizations, and more. The H4A legislative agenda is broad because Homes for All represents the full continuum of housing and believes that every part of the continuum is critical infrastructure to stabilizing Minnesotans and the communities they call home. Please read more on their website for the full agenda: www.homesforallmn.org

Source References

Download the 2021 MCH Legislative Agenda Here
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MCH Legislative Kickoff Video
Click here to watch our 2021 Legislative Priorities. With our 2021 priorities (here), we wanted to recognize the data from Minnesota’s Homeless Management Information System, prepared by Institute for Community Alliances, and show the need in communities across the state by highlighting Christina from Willmar from our Regional Interview Project. #MCHInterviews

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MCH Legislative Outcomes 

Download the 2019 Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless Legislative Outcomes
Download the 2019 Homes for All Legislative Outcomes

Past Legislative Agendas

Download the 2020 MCH Legislative Agenda
Download the 2019 MCH Legislative Agenda

Download the 2018 MCH Legislative Agenda

Contact: Zack Eichten, Director of Public Policy || zack@mnhomelesscoalition.org