ST. PAUL, Minn. – As part of a continuing effort to end homelessness in Minnesota, Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) and Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) have introduced legislation to invest $100 million in affordable housing projects.
“Last year Representative Hausman surprised many capitol observers by successfully getting $100 million for affordable housing in the 2014 bonding bill,” Sen. Marty said. “That was the largest single investment in housing in state history. The money is making a difference across the state, financing housing for homeless youth and supportive housing for people with mental illness and other challenges. However, there were many excellent, much needed housing projects that still need funding, and we want to continue moving forward in addressing Minnesota’s shortage of low-income housing.”
One in eight Minnesota households pay half or more of their income toward housing. When housing costs consume this much of a household’s income, people struggle to pay for food and other necessities. There is extensive research documenting that housing instability contributes to poorer health, education and workforce outcomes. Likewise, housing shortages can stifle economic development.
“The need to provide affordable housing and end chronic homelessness is urgent and ongoing. An estimated 14,000 Minnesotans are homeless on any given night,” said Rep. Hausman. “Last year’s $100 million was extremely helpful, but the need for more housing remains – I’m joining Senator Marty in calling for a $100 million investment every biennium until Minnesota ends homelessness and all Minnesotans have stable housing.”
Marty and Hausman say that investing in housing for the homeless ends up saving money. They point to economic analysis conducted for the State of Utah, which estimated the cost of emergency room visits and jails averaged $16,670 per homeless person, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker totaled just $11,000 per person.
As a result, Utah committed state dollars to ending homelessness. Ten years after implementing its Housing First plan, chronic homelessness has declined by 72%, and homeless veterans has reached an “effective zero.”
“If Utah can tackle homelessness, so can Minnesota,” Marty said. “And we save taxpayers money in the process.”
“We are making progress, but we can’t stop with last year’s bonding bill. Secure housing is critical to any child’s success in school, and any parent’s ability to hold a job and raise a family. That is why long-term investment in housing should be a state priority,” said Rep. Hausman.