Dramatically Reducing Minnesota Student/Family Homeless

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Beginning in late 2018, with incredible collaboration from a number of St Paul district, charter, city, county, social service leaders, along with current and formerly homeless youth and parents named below, the Center for School Change began helping create a coalition to dramatically reduce youth/family homelessness in Minnesota.

Cofounded with St Paul Public school parent Nancy Bitenc, the group currently includes among others, St. Paul  City Council  members Jane Prince and  Mitra Jalali Nelson,  Ramsey County Commissioner Trista Matascastillo   and other Commission members, St. Paul Public School Project Reach  Director Anne McInerney and members of her staff,  chartered school students from Face to Face Academy and High School for Recording Arts, Interfaith Action,  Roy Magnuson (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office) Sheri Riemers from Ain Dah Yung Center, Wokie Weah and Marcus Pope from Youthprise, Dr.Tom Kottke of Health Partners, St. Paul Public Schools graduate (and formerly homeless) Khalique Rogers and others.

One of this efforts activities involved a number of people, including CSC’s director, meeting with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, at his request, to discuss the relationship between dramatically reducing homelessness and increasing student achievement in Minnesota public schools.  (See picture above)

  • This led to an invitation from the Attorney General to several group members, including CSC’s director, to appear in a podcast hosted by the A.G., that was broadcast beginning in November 2019.

In February, 2020, Minnesota Public Radio invited Khalique Rogers, an active participant in these efforts, Eric Grumdahl, Deputy director of the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness and CSC’s director to spent about an hour discussing why dramatically reducing youth and family homelessness, and how it can be done.

Eric, Joe, Khalique and Jim

The effort to reduce youth and family homelessness was based in part on the CSC director’s experience as an urban public school assistant principal.  Several youngsters at the school became homeless.  This helped contribute to massive personal problems, and significant challenges in school.

New efforts began in December, 2018.  Central to the efforts was the belief that homeless youth and parent must be deeply involved in every part of  this work.

Coalition member Isis Watford and a mural at Youthprise.

The  coalition has been able to

  1. Convince the St. Paul City Council to hold a historic hearing, at which district & charter students and families discussed what homelessness was like for them.  They offered recommendations to the Council.
  2. Helped convince the Ramsey County Commissioners to add $1 million to its budget to help reduce homelessness
  3. Meet with Attorney General Keith Ellison at his request to discuss ways to reduce homelessness (pictured above).
  4. Write a column for a number of suburban and rural Minnesota newspaper on the need to reduce homelessness.
  5. Help convince Ramsey County officials to work with Interfaith Action to keep a day shelter open that was scheduled to be closed August 31, 2019
  6. Named itself UFA (United for Action)
  7. Responded to a request from the Minnesota State Attorney General who asked a youth member of the UFA coalition to join him on a podcast about homelessness.  The CSC director also participated in this podcast.
  8. Work with Youthprise, which hired three current or formerly homeless youth participating in United For Action, to help increase awareness of youth and family homelessness.
  9. Presented information about the critical need to reduce homelessness to parties of a statewide lawsuit seeking to significantly increase student achievement especially by students from low income families, indigenous students and students f color.
  10. Met with Rep. Alice Hausman to discuss possible legislation for 2020

St. Paul City Council Member Jane Prince, Nazarria McClintock, Nadia McClintock

 

Relevant documents:

  • Article by UFA coalition member Dr. Tom Kottke:             “Access to Affordable Housing Promotes Health and Well-Being and Reduces Hospital Visits
  • Federal report showing number of homeless students in Minnesota has increased from about 15,000 to almost 18,000 in just three years (2014-15 to 2017-18)
  • Federal summary showing there are 16 African Americans in Minnesota who are homeless, for every white person who is homeless.

 

Additionally check out the other newspaper articles CSC has published regarding reducing the level of youth homelessness in Minnesota:

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and are in need of resources, please visit the MN Housing Finance Agency: http://www.mnhousing.gov/sites/multifamily/homelessness

Additional Reports on Responding Effectively to Unsheltered Homelessness in Twin Cities Metro Area are available below.