By Zack Eichten, Director of Public Policy
It’s legislative break so it’s time to provide an update on the progress to advance the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless 2022 Policy Agenda. See “background” further down this blog post to learn more about our policy agenda setting process.
Here is a quick update on each of our key policy priorities:
Shelter Capital Funding
The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless continues to advance Shelter Capital as a top priority again this year. Across the State, communities have identified over $100 million in funding needs to create and preserve shelter spaces statewide. It is imperative to create intentional spaces to get people quickly connected to resources that support a pathway to a permanent home. Shelter saves lives and these investments are essential to bring children, youth, adults, seniors and veterans inside.
Governor’s Position: $72.006 million in one-time funding to create and preserve shelter spaces statewide
House Position: $75 million in one-time funding to create and preserve shelter spaces statewide
Senate Position: Not currently included in any Senate positions
Emergency Services Program
The Emergency Services Program is our best and most flexible source of funding to provide services to people experiencing homeless–flexible in that local providers can provide local solutions to homelessness in communities all across Minnesota. It funds staffing, shelter operations, and essential services to support the transition to a temporary or permanent home. With the looming funding cliff threatening to end the critical capacity built up during the pandemic, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless fully supports a strong investment in this crucial program.
Governor’s Position: $55 million this year for ESP and $60 million per biennium base funding increase
House Position: $35 million this year for ESP and $50 million per biennium base funding increase
Senate Position: No investment in ESP in current Health and Human Services “Workforce” funding bill
Transitional Housing Program
The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is advancing both increased funding and key policy changes to strengthen this program. We are advocating for an increase of $9 million per biennium in base funding. We’re also leading on two key policy changes that will increase the time limit from 24 to 36 months and reduce confusing language in the statute regarding program participation extensions. The program participation time extension will allow people experiencing homelessness the time and support needed to establish stability and secure a permanent home.
Governor’s Position: $3 million per biennium base funding increase; no policy provisions
House Position: $5 million in base funding increase; both policy provisions
Senate Position: No increase in funding; both policy provisions
Creation and Preservation of Homes
The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, along with our partners at Homes for All, are advocating to fund the development and preservation of homes through bonding including Housing Infrastructure Bonds ($400 million) to develop affordable homes and General Obligation Bonds ($100 million) for public housing rehabilitation. These investments will create and expand housing options, cultivate long-term stability, and move Minnesota closer to the goal that everyone in our community has a safe and dignified home.
Governor’s Position: $250 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds and $60 million in General Obligation bonds
House Position: Unknown; bonding bill has not yet been released
Senate Position: Unknown; bonding bill has not yet been released
Supporting the Task Force on Shelter
The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless was prepared to support actionable recommendations that emerged during this legislative session. The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless continues to lift up this work, and we support the extension of the Task force through December 15, 2022. This extension will allow the Task Force to identify and advance recommendations needed to strengthen the shelter response system across Minnesota. The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless included this on our 2022 policy agenda in order to educate lawmakers on the need for statewide guidelines for shelters that provide a safe and dignified shelter experience. The legislature approved an extension through December 15, 2022. The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is excited to see the recommendations emerge from the Task Force as we move into the 2023 legislative session as it relates to policy and/or funding proposals.
Governor’s Position: Extension of the Task Force until 12.15.2022
House Position: Extension of the Task Force until 12.15.2022
Senate Position: Extension of the Task Force until 12.15.2022
Looking Forward: Your Advocacy Can Make An Impact!
As the session progresses, your voice is more important than ever! This is a critical time to contact your lawmakers to prioritize moving people out of homelessness and into permanent safe, affordable, and accessible homes. To find your lawmakers, please go to the Who Represents Me page on the Minnesota Legislative website. A quick phone call or email goes a long way in lifting up these policy solutions with your legislator. Keep your eyes peeled for action alerts as May 23rd (last day of session) approaches.
Background: Intentional Policy Development Process
The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless 2022 policy agenda is centered around the journey that individuals and families have transitioning from homelessness to a permanent safe, affordable, and accessible home. In the summer and fall of 2021, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless held 50 listening sessions with people with lived experience (current or past), homeless service providers, housing providers and other key stakeholders; they provided key input to identify what is working well, barriers, and the solutions needed to end homelessness in Minnesota. Every policy priority selected was first identified by people with lived experience as a key priority and the Regional Expert Network helped to select the priorities. This process yielded the following agenda items:
- Shelter Capital Funding
- Supporting the Task Force on Shelter
- Funding essential services through the Emergency Services Program
- Improving the Transitional Housing Program
- Funding the development and preservation of affordable homes through bonding
Please contact me, Zack Eichten, Director of Public Policy, at Zack@mnhomelesscoalition.org with any questions or for more information regarding the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless policy priorities.