Ho Nguyen is the Housing and Economic
Justice Program Manager at Minnesota
Coalition of Battered Women. She says
nationally there are about 10.4 million
people who need affordable housing, and
there are about 3.2 million units available.
Locally, “affordable housing is becoming
obsolete. Those who are disproportionately
affected by this are people of color,
specifically women, immigrants, LGBTQ-
plus,” she says. “Housing instability leads to
other issues. In my work, we see that housing
stability is the one of the top reasons women
stay in abusive relationships, because they
have nowhere else to go.”

She also knows of sexual assault cases,
where landlords are not willing to change the
locks to protect victims, or are themselves
perpetrators. Often domestic abuse affects
a woman’s ability to maintain a job. “It just
cycles people into poverty,” Nguyen says,
adding that 92 percent of homeless women
have experienced severe sexual or domestic
assault in their lifetime.

“All the policies around affordable
housing are bandaids,” Nguyen says.

As the public policy director of the
Metropolitan Consortium Community
Developers — a statewide coalition that
works on homelessness services — Rose
Teng sees housing at a crisis level in the state.
While the challenges are great, she says, “I’m
optimistic that we can find public policy
solutions, as people are deeply concerned
and want to see change.”