Rally urges passage of $100 million affordable housing bond

At the Capitol to meet legislators (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

Homes for All, Minnesota Homeless Coalition, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity rallied at the Minnesota State Capitol on May 11 to fight for $100 million in bonds for affordable housing. By gathering outside of their chambers, the groups hoped to convince lawmakers to pass a bill that would develop or preserve housing for approximately 3,000 families throughout Minnesota.

Decent housing supports the emotional, mental, and physical health of parents and their children. The long-term effects of homelessness are especially alarming. According to Wilder Research, in 2012, homeless parents had higher rates of chronic physical and mental illness; their children suffered “more health problems, more trouble learning to develop healthy relationships, and greater difficulty staying on track in school.”

Wilder found that in a 2012 one-day count there were10,214 homeless people in the State of Minnesota, which included 3,500 children.

The Minnesota legislature approved $100 million in housing bonds in 2014. Advocates today are asking legislators to provide another $100 million in this year’s session. In support of passing the bill, the protesters organized a rally at Christ on Capitol to talk about the effects of homelessness. Together, they walked to the Capitol to meet with the House of Representatives and the Senate to urge passage of the bill.

Rallying support (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

Senta Leff, executive director of the Minnesota Homeless Coalition, stressed the fact that housing is no longer a partisan issue. “Every year, there has been progress with targeted investment. We can end this problem.” The Minnesota Homeless Coalition is one of 177 statewide organizations that support the bonding bill.

Pam Johnson, policy and advocacy manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, talked about statewide support for the bill and its effect on homeless people. “If you don’t have solid housing, you can’t do the other parts of your life. It affects health issues, kids in school, and every area of life.” She believes there is a good chance the bill will pass this year. “There’s a lot of pressure over last year [when the legislature did not pass the bill]; local municipalities are pushing for [it this time]. We have a lot better chance this year.”

Advocates spent the day delivering flyers to representatives, letting them know the importance of this bill and how many lives it will affect. Those working on getting this bonding bill passed hoped to reach all the representatives who would be able to vote for it.


Chris Juhn welcomes reader responses to chrisjuhnphotography@yahoo.com.