May 2020 Statement to legislators about youth helping to build houses for the homeless:
To help strengthen ALL of Minnesota, we strongly urge that
1.Minnesota’s bonding bill include as one of its priorities, construction of permanent, affordable housing for Minnesota’s homeless, especially for families with children, youth and teen parents with one or more children.
2. High schools and colleges be eligible, along with other organizations that have built homes in the past, to apply for funds appropriated by the legislature.
A variety of organizations tell us that they have “shovel ready” projects ready to go if there is state support. Wilder and other researchers have found there are homeless youth and families throughout the state – about 1/3 in greater Minnesota, 1/3 in Twin Cities suburbs and 1/3 in Minneapolis St Paul. Constructing permanent housing is vital if Minnesota is going to dramatically reduce the number of homeless families. The solution to homelessness is homes.
There’s a threefold benefit if the legislature does this.
- Health benefit: Research by a respected Minnesota doctor shows providing permanent housing for homeless helps reduce health care costs.
- Economic benefit: Done correctly, housing the homeless saves money that would otherwise be spent on public safety, health care, and social services. Bonding also will help provide jobs that are urgently need.
- Workforce shortage: Some Minnesota programs are training high school and college students to build homes – some even building homes for homeless. Construction trades report significant shortages Students in the Anoka Hennepin district, for example, have been building homes for more than 20 years. Their total cost is less than $100,000 for a 3 bedroom home.
We should not be content with shelters which are a valuable but short term response. A Wilder Foundation report released earlier this year found
- “A lack of housing is the primary reason for homelessness”
- Children experiencing homelessness face added barriers to positive social emotional and academic outcomes.
- More than 1/3 of homeless adults first became homeless at or before age 18
- 37% of homeless adults are African American, 34% are white, and 12% are American Indian – both African American and American Indian are significantly over-represented.
The Minnesota Dept of Education reports: “Homelessness disproportionally impacts students of color. Seventy-two percent of students facing homelessness are students of color. American Indian students are over-represented among students experiencing homelessness by a factor of 6.1. Black students are over-represented by a factor of 4.5. Homelessness also disproportionately impacts students with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LBGTQ) youth.”
However, homeless youth are found throughout the state – from Hayfield to Hopkins, Robbinsdale to Rochester, International Falls to Isanti.
Please consider making permanent affordable housing a high priority for bonding.
Dr. Candice M. Ames, Pine City School Board Member, 50 years in education
Juan Bowen, M.D. Rochester, Minnesota
Lincoln Bacal, Twin Cities Changemakers Founder and high school senior
Nancy Jane Bitenc, Co-founder, United for Action
Walter Covina, Bridgemakers Founder, Director and High School Junior
Ed Felien, Editor, SouthSide Pride
Hanna Getachew-Kreusser, MA, Executive Director, Face to Face Health and Counseling
Patti Haasch, retired public school principal, volunteer MAAP STARS chair
Greg Herder, Board Chair, National Youth Leadership Council
Roxanne Holst, Parent Hayfield High School
Wayne Jennings, Retired principal, author, School Transformation
Thomas E. Kottke, MD, MSPH, Immediate Past President, Twin Cities Medical Society
George Latimer, Mayor, St Paul, 1976-1990
Jane Leonard, President, Growth & Justice
Shawn Lewis, GCDF (Global Career Development Facilitator), Consultant
Jonette Lucia, MMA, Luce Consulting
Roy Magnuson, Public Information Officer, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Officer
Liz Turbridge McCambridge, Retired SPPS Teacher and Social Activist
Joe Nathan, Director, Center for School Change
Jane Prince, St. Paul City Council Member, Ward 7
John Poupart, Founder and President, American Indian Policy Center
Khalique Rogers, University of Minnesota student
Jon Schroeder, former publisher, Grant County Herald
Tony Simmons, Executive Director, High School for Recording Arts
Mary Kay Sloan, Member Pine City, Mn City Council
Linda Slocum, 25 year public school teacher and 12 year State Representative
Danielle Swift, Community Organizer
Rashad Turner, founder, executive director, Minnesota Parent Union
Mary Anne Wark, retired educator, attorney, non-profit volunteer
Wokie Weah, President, Youthprise
Nelsie Yang, Saint Paul Council Member Ward 6
Andrew R. Zinkel, MD, MBA, Emergency Physician, St. Paul