What makes me most fearful on a regular basis is how many Minnesotans are suffering from insecure housing all over the state. This fear spurs me into action.
I am an advocate in the fair housing field. As a volunteer for many organizations, including Minnesota Homes for All and the National Coalition for the Homeless, I have attended perhaps a thousand meetings about providing more affordable homes for low-income Minnesotans.
During the eight years I lived in the Twin Cities suburbs of Richfield and Bloomington, I was forcibly displaced twice in 24 months. Despite having a Section 8 housing choice voucher — which was supposed to entitle me to an affordable rental unit — I was moved by development projects. The first time, in 2015, I was forced out alongside more than 2,000 neighbors in Richfield. In 2018, it was removal in Bloomington by a Chicago investor who gave only a 30-day notice to vacate.
My option was to move to southeast Minnesota, where rents are lower and vouchers are accepted. I now live in a small town near Winona. There are housing issues here too.
In August 2018, the Governor’s Task Force on Housing released its 72-page report “More Places to Call Home: Investing in Minnesota’s Future.” The report noted that we need 300,000 new affordable units built statewide by 2030 if communities are to thrive and new businesses are to open. It also noted that 25 percent of all Minnesotans and more than 45 percent of renters are burdened by housing costs. Many of these are people who have been paying more than 30 percent of their household income toward housing costs for a decade.
Here are a few other issues I have learned about:
As a state with a populist past, many people are trying to help our residents thrive. Longtime Minnesota Representative Alice Hausman — who recently announced she will not run for re-election in the fall— says, “Nothing goes well without a home.” As we prepare to lose her passion in the legislature, we all need to pay closer attention to decisions being made by policymakers in the coming months. What is every elected official doing to help grow housing supply?
The cumulative costs of doing too little about homelessness and displaced renters in our communities are much greater than investments that solve for safe, stable, accessible housing that is affordable for all incomes. Let us spend money at the front end to prevent further harm.
Fair housing is a human right. No one in our state should have to experience the fear of not having a safe place to live. I believe Minnesota can solve this crisis. To join in advocacy efforts, attend the Homes for All Coalition legislative launch online 10am on February 2, 2022.
Q: How can people support organizations that ARE doing the right thing to create affordable housing?
Lindalee’s response: Look at the work of Micah, AEON, PPL, Beacon, Common Bond, All PARKS Alliance
Join Changemakers Alliance conversations on February 9, 3pm (Wednesday), or February 12, 9am (Saturday), for a discussion about Minnesota legislative priorities. What can readers and advocates learn from each other about enhancing equity, restoring agriculture, healing trauma, and transforming justice? What connections can you make? Details: womenspress.com/changemakers-alliance
Our February issue about “Equity” will have several stories about the housing crisis in Minnesota, and solutions.
Wilder Research on Homelessness 2019
Metropolitan Council data (2019)
2018 Housing Task Force report
Older adult homelessness data (2018)
An opportunity housing ordinance in Bloomington
TPT has a set of documentaries at “Under One Roof.” Three full-length documentaries: “American Dream Under Fire” (manufactured home park closing), “Sold Out — Affordable Housing at Risk” (Crossroads), and “Jim Crow of the North — Mapping Prejudice” (academic and historic).