By Kate Taber, Minneapolis Congregational Organizer, Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative
In the midst of an ongoing and deepening housing crisis, Minnesota announced a $17.6 billion surplus earlier this month. While there are many worthwhile initiatives clamoring for investment, none is more central to the health, well-being, prosperity, and future of Minnesota families and communities than home. More than 40 nonprofits across the state are calling for Governor Walz and legislative leaders to prioritize passing and funding Bring it Home, Minnesota, an effort to fully fund rent support for Minnesotans in need.
Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative is proud to be leading the charge for Bring it Home, Minnesota. Our roots are right here in Minneapolis. For more than 20 years, we’ve built and operated quality, affordable housing for people with the lowest incomes. Creating more deeply affordable supportive housing is an essential investment in a healthy landscape of home for our communities. And we know we can’t build our way out of Minnesota’s housing crisis. We need transformational changes in the underlying housing policies and systems to ensure home is accessible, affordable, and stable for all of us.
On the same day as the State affirmed there are ample resources to alleviate our housing crisis, 550,000 Minnesotans were paying more than they can afford in rent. Renters in every corner of the state are cost-burdened and making unthinkable choices between paying to keep a roof over their head and covering other basic necessities.
Bring it Home, Minnesota will provide rent support to all renters who make 50% of the area median income or less (about $36,000 a year statewide) and ensure they don’t pay more than 30% of their income toward rent. By creating a fully funded voucher initiative, elected officials can alleviate tight budgets, free up opportunity for families and communities, and effectively end homelessness as we know it at its source.
This transformational solution will cost a fraction of the available $17.6 billion in resources. Rent support is a proven solution that reduces poverty and strengthens communities. The expertise and endorsement of over 40 housing and social services nonprofits affirms that Bring it Home, Minnesota rent support is a key component to any equitable, strong future for Minnesota.
Home is the cornerstone on which the rest of our lives find stability. Everything else depends on it. It’s tough for kids to do homework if they don’t have a home to do it in. Grades – and futures – suffer without it. It’s hard to keep prescriptions and healthy food refrigerated if you have no kitchen of your own. Our health is put in jeopardy if home isn’t part of the foundation. Local economies are weakened when people can’t afford to live close enough to make work feasible. When the rent eats first, it’s a challenge to find anything left over to cover the basics of food, clothing, utilities, supplies, much less to launch you into a better tomorrow.
There are a lot of great, important ways we can and should invest back into our communities with this surplus and with our state budget decisions. But home has to be at the center of all of these conversations. If it’s not, we risk undercutting the effectiveness and impact of other endeavors.
Sustained by our many faiths and shared values, Beacon is part of telling a different story of what’s possible when we place home at the center of healthy neighborhoods and communities. When it comes to home, no one should be left behind or locked out. As a collaborative of congregations, we recognize the abundance within our society and commit to channeling it to the people and communities our society has disenfranchised and financially exploited.
Bring it Home, Minnesota represents a crucial opportunity to change the landscape of home for the better. We’ll all do better when we all have a home!
We commend the Minneapolis legislators who signed on as authors for Bring it Home, Minnesota in 2022: Representatives Esther Agbaje, Jim Davnie, Aisha Gomez, Emma Greenman, Hodan Hassan, Frank Hornstein, Sydney Jordan, Fue Lee, Jamie Long, and Mohamud Noor; Senators Bobby Joe Champion and Kari Dziedzic. We are asking them to reaffirm their support for this transformational legislation in 2023, and inviting the rest of the Minneapolis delegation to join them as champions for Bring it Home, Minnesota and the housing solutions our community deserves.
The question isn’t whether Bring it Home, Minnesota is needed or if it will work – we know it is, and we know it will. The question is if our elected officials will fund home like the priority it is.