Human Services committee hears bills to address youth homelessness
To recognize Homeless Day on the Hill, the Senate Human Services Reform committee heard bills this week that provide resources and support to people experiencing homelessness and organizations working in this field. The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness reported that the rate of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness has risen 145% from 2014-2020. With few affordable housing options available, limited shelter space, and less staff working in organizations that can help, there is an incredible need for investments in our homeless services system across the state.
Among bills that would provide more funding for shelter and transitional housing were two that focused on youth experiencing homelessness. Youth experiencing homelessness can be a hidden crisis; oftentimes they are not seen inside the shelter system and therefore are under-represented in prevalence data, but estimates suggest that over 4,000 youth are on their own any given night. In addition, young people experiencing homelessness are also disproportionately Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) at 73% and youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ at 23%.
Two bills from Senate DFLers would provide more resources for the Homeless Youth Act and establish a pilot program to support homeless youth who oftentimes stay with a caring relative or family friend rather than utilizing a shelter. The Homeless Youth Act funding would provide a needed funding boost for street and community outreach, drop-in programs, emergency shelter programs, and integrated supportive housing and transitional living programs to reduce the incidence of homelessness among youth. With over a $9 billion surplus, DFLers will continue to advocate for these critical investments to end homelessness in Minnesota. (SF 3263, SF 3155)