In addition to our internal efforts to provide more permanent supportive housing, House of Charity is actively involved in legislative advocacy to address solutions for homelessness. The year 2014 marks the second session of Homes for All, an alliance that works to advance policy initiatives that lead to housing stability in Minnesota. This year, the Prosperity for All alliance was created out of the state’s dire need for policy reform of the Minnesota Family Investment Program’s (MFIP) participation restrictions. Each alliance has its own legislative agenda and accompanying bill proposal.
Home is the foundation for stable families, strong communities, and a competitive state.
The “Homes for All” Bill requests $100 million in bonds for investments in affordable housing. Statewide funding would be awarded through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and used for:
1. Building and rehabilitating supportive housing.
- * Creating affordable housing options for extremely low-income Minnesotans including families with children, homeless youth, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities.
* Leveraging private funding to build supportive housing – a proven strategy to reduce long-term homelessness by combing affordable housing with supportive services. (Like House of Charity)
2. Preserving and rehabilitating federally assisted affordable housing.
- * Preserving rural units at risk of losing federal subsidy due to disrepair.
* Rehabilitating aging public housing, operated in over 200 communities across the state.
3. Stabilizing communities impacted by the foreclosure crisis.
- * Rehabilitating deteriorating buildings and foreclosed homes.
* Increasing rental and home-ownership opportunities for low and middle-income Minnesotans.
The return on investment is impressive. Every public dollar invested in supportive housing returns $1.44 to taxpayers.
The “Prosperity for All” MFIP Workforce Education Bill works for the advancement of public policies that better serve striving families while helping Minnesota’s economy and requests the reduction of barriers to Adult Basic Education, higher education, and English Language Learning (ELL).
The passage of this bill would accomplish:
- • Allowing MFIP participants to earn a GED/diploma as an approved work activity;
• Allowing MFIP participants to enroll in 4-year, post-secondary-education programs;
• Giving new graduates the flexibility to job search for 12 weeks, rather than 6 weeks;
• Removing barriers to enrolling in ELL classes for those who are learning English as a second language.
The “Prosperity for All” Bill is good for education, employers, and the economy:
Increased education leads to increased earnings– Between 1975 and 2005, wages for those with college and advanced degrees rose by 22% and 29%. Wages for high school graduates stagnated and those without high school degrees fell by 16% (Baum & Ma, “Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,” 2007)
House of Charity is proud to be among the organizations across Minnesota that have signed on in support of these alliances. Additionally, our staff and clients advocated for these bills with their Senators and Representatives at the State Capitol on March 6th during Homeless Day on the Hill which was organized by Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. For more information on these bills, go to: http://www.mnhomelesscoalition.org/2014-legislative-agenda/