By Lee Blons | Some in our collaborative may be feeling stressed about the shifting political climate in Washington. Well, there are some things we just cannot control. However, we can focus our attention closer to home on the values we share.
It is a good time to come together -- within our own collaborative of congregations, with other housing advocates in our region and state – to speak up for housing to our state and local public officials. When we do this we live our values in a concrete way, creating housing in our communities: Our collaborative made this happen in St. Paul with Prior Crossing recently opened; in Edina with 66 West under construction; and now in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, with Great River Landing starting to take shape.
We look to the 2017 legislative session with a mixture of realism and hope. We invite all our Beacon congregations to get involved in legislative advocacy and be part of the solution to homelessness in our own state and communities.
Here are a few specific goals:
- We hope to maintain funding of the Homeless Youth Act at its current level of $11 million per biennium. This legislation is a critical source of funds for housing and services for the 4,000 youth who experience homelessness in our state on any given night.
- We urge our state legislative leaders and Governor Dayton to call for a bonding bill that would include funds for housing.
- We will shine light on proposed “Unlocking Opportunities” legislation that would focus on the needs of particular population in Minnesota – those who face even higher than normal barriers to employment and housing because of a felony conviction. We believe that if we invest targeted funds in stable housing and supportive programs to “unlock opportunities” for people with a criminal history, we will rebuild lives, prevent recidivism, reunite families and stop the downward spiral of generational poverty and despair.
Advocacy for these priorities is a powerful addition to other work you do to end homelessness – hosting families, helping to develop housing, supporting people living in our housing – and it makes a significant impact.
This work isn’t easy. It isn’t flashy. It isn’t even that popular. But reflecting on our Beacon mission statement we see that doing this work is our imperative:
“Inspired by social justice and guided by our many faiths, creating homes for those in need, building community for all.”
To find out how you and your congregation can tap into the power of collaborating for change, email Debra Rodgers, associate director of congregational organizing, or call her at 651-789-6260 x218.