ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) – Since 2014 the number of unsheltered Minnesotans is up more than 40 percent, a spike so alarming, hundreds gathered at the state capitol Wednesday demanding action.
The gathering is part of Homeless Day on the Hill. The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is advocating for the reduction of the financial burden on homeless families.
Part of that would be a $15 million investment to the Emergency Services Program which goes to things like shelters and short-term housing. The coalition also wants an increase to the Minnesota Family Investment program by $200 a month per family. MFIP is the state’s welfare-to-work program.
An MFIP recipient recounted how the program helped get her family off the streets and into a home.
“I’m used to doing personal care assistant all the time, now I can’t do any of that because of my sickness, says MFIP recipient Toshieka Washington. “So I depend on MFIP every month to provide for me and my two children and its hard.”
Washington says it’s hard because the amount given to a family of three now is not keeping pace with housing price increases.
Advocates say, when people have a place to call home children and communities have the chance to prosper.
“Until we build more apartments and peoples’ income can meet the cost of those apartments, we have people who are homeless, says community advocate Monica Nilsson. “And until we have more money for shelters we have people who are unsheltered who are sleeping out in public.”
Advocates also say the programs will increase housing stability for low wealth Minnesotans so no one spends a night outside again.
According to the Minnesota Coalition for the homeless, the MFIP cash assistance has not been increased since 1986. And advocates say increasing the funds for emergency services program would ensure every family has a place to call home.