I was excited that we discussed Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness at our staff meeting here at Beacon this week. This plan should be required reading for anyone who cares about this cause -- and I am not talking about reading yourself to sleep. The plan is well-written, detailed yet concise and includes sound data. I think we’ll revisit some of its specifics in more detail in coming months, but you can start with an excerpt from the introductory letter from Governor Mark Dayton:
“Stable housing results in better educational outcomes for our children, a stronger workforce now and in the future, increased public safety, better health, reduced health care costs, and reduced disparities among communities.”
Basically, a stronger Minnesota, and a better place for all Minnesotans including those who struggle with poverty and stable housing. We agree.
Next, you can read the letter from the commissioners of the state’s Department of Human Services and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, including this:
“This plan differs from previous efforts to address homelessness among Minnesotans, primarily because it establishes accountabilities for all Commissioners and their staff.”
That’s great news. Furthermore, the plan suggests that this Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal requires a public-private partnership (and we at Beacon know a little something about that, if I do say so) expanding that sense of accountability to all of us – businesses, government entities, nonprofits and communities. To that list I’d add: congregations motivated by their faith values to care for their neighbors in need. Yes, I mean you.
In fact, we make it easy for you to be accountable, if you choose, by becoming a Beacon Citizen. In just a couple of weeks (on Jan. 28) we’ll kick off our legislative campaign. At that event, Acting on Faith, we Beacon Citizens will begin the collective effort, along with homeless advocates throughout the state and other social sector organizations, to urge our elected officials to prioritize $100 million for affordable housing construction and renovation. That would produce or rehab housing for about 5,000 – not everyone who experiences homelessness in our state, but perhaps half.
And that would be a really, really good start to the end of homelessness, right here in our own backyard.