Homes for All: Partnerships Pay Off

7/11/13
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At the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, we often say that advocacy is a team sport. This past legislative session, housing and homeless advocates worked together on a bold Homes for All campaign to increase funding for the continuum of programs that prevent and end homelessness. In the end, we increased funding for services by 42 percent and for housing by nearly 25 percent. The increases totaled $33 million for each two-year budget cycle. This won't end homelessness, but it is a very significant step forward. This coming year, homeless organizations will provide some level of services to 7,000 homeless or at-risk Minnesotans.

It takes a lot of people working together to make history. The retired city councilor in Moorhead who sent a postcard every week to her legislators; the high school students who held sleepouts, raised awareness, and collected signatures; the elderly woman who read about the Homes for All campaign in the newspaper and doorknocked her entire apartment complex urging neighbors to call legislators; the homeless youth who courageously shared personal stories in packed hearing rooms; advocates from dozens of organizations who put aside their differences to work on a unified campaign; courageous legislators and staffers across state government—tireless, dedicated, unsung public servants.

Long before session began there were thousands of volunteers helping with the Wilder statewide homeless study that gives advocates, policy makers, and the media an insight into the complex issues that lead to homelessness. We know how many people are homeless on a typical night in Minnesota; we know who they are; we know what personal life traumas and public policies have brought on their homelessness. We know that every dollar invested in supportive housing returns more than that dollar to the state coffers. We know ending homelessness is good policy for the short term and for the long term. And now we know from the success of the Homes for All campaign that when we work together in a unified and well-coordinated campaign, we can change public policy. 

Liz Kuoppala is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.