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Your Friday news roundup
January 24, 2014

We share a few of the best local articles from the past few weeks about the challenges of homelessness and what’s needed to end it. Pick one or read them all – this is good stuff.

Lorenzo Vasquez was homeless for 25 years. Now a Beacon tenant at American House, he shared his story shared with MinnPost. It’s an example of the positive outcomes created when affordable housing is coordinated with supportive services addressing the deep issues that lead to homelessness. The State of Minnesota has a plan to create more such housing and opportunity for the 10,000+ people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

But unfortunately, says People Incorporated CEO M. Tim Burkett, stories like Lorenzo’s are too rare. Why? Because even when people such as Lorenzo have “the courage to face their demons,” as Burkett writes in response to the article above, they are far more likely to relapse into ill health and homelessness if they lack stable and affordable housing.

Think tank MN2020 offers an update on the housing collapse five years ago and its impact on communities statewide. The recovery in the housing market (rental and ownership) is uneven. “We still have severe problems with affordability and availability,” said Jan Plimpton, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota – especially among those earning less than $50,000 a year. In Minneapolis and Saint Paul, 71 percent of renter households at that level are “cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30 percent of household income toward housing expenses.

We could not agree more with this Star Tribune editorial which makes the case for prioritizing $100 million in bonding for affordable and supportive housing. Such housing alleviates homelessness today, and pays off down the line as the high costs of shelter, emergency room care and incarceration decrease. Stable housing also benefits children, whose academic achievement improves when they're housed, and their parents, many of whom are seriously stressed by the Herculean task of making ends meet in today’s economy on low-wage jobs.

And, just because it’s inspiring, take a look at this Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless video in which experienced advocates talk about what they see daily and why our voices are needed to get housing built and end homelessness.