Bonding For The Future

Dan Gregory November 26, 2019

This powerful combination – a home and services – means youth like Meriem can focus on writing the next chapter of their lives.

By Ben Helvick Anderson, Director of Public Policy

Meriem is living proof that your advocacy matters. Meriem, a twenty two year old, has overcome displacement, anxiety and homelessness through finding stable housing because the state provided Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIB) to Beacon to create Prior Crossing. (Click here to read Meriem’s full story.) The state legislature and the governor supported HIB because they heard from people like you.

If you drive down University Avenue near Prior Avenue in St. Paul, you will see Meriem’s and  43 other youths homes. The building, Prior Crossing, provides safe, quality homes with support services right on site for youth who had experienced or were at risk of homelessness.

This powerful combination – a home and services – means youth like Meriem can focus on writing the next chapter of their lives instead of worrying about where they’ll sleep each night.

Another Beacon development, 66 West in Edina, provides homes and services to another 39 youth at risk or experiencing homelessness.

What do both of these buildings have in common? We as the state invested our public resources through state housing bonds to make them possible. This needed capital helped create 83 homes for youth, giving them the stability and services they need to grow and thrive. Housing bonding dollars have also created hundreds of similar homes across the state for people who have experienced long term homelessness, seniors, and folks living with mental health conditions.

Let’s keep building on this success to meet the deep need for housing focused on those with the greatest barriers. Beacon has plans to build almost 200 new homes with support services in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hopkins, and Shakopee in the next several years. Together, these homes will require a capital investment of over $50 million. Many other nonprofit developers and counties have similar bold plans to address the great need across the state. To make all of these homes a reality, we need to invest a historic amount of our public dollars into housing bonds in 2020.

The investment is needed because the market won’t build homes for those with the lowest income or those exiting homelessness. It is up to all of us to step up and care for our neighbors, to create more equitable communities by investing in building homes for those with the greatest needs. We have the resources to make sure that everyone has a home. And we know that dollars spent on stable, supportive homes that help people thrive benefits our whole community.

Every other year, the state legislature typically passes a bonding bill. Bonding dollars are used for essential infrastructure. Traditionally this has meant things like roads, bridges, water safety, and public buildings like our universities and museums. Minnesota was an innovative national leader when it recognized that affordable housing is essential to our growth and prosperity as a state. So leaders created Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs), which are bonds the state sells to fund part of a private housing development that serves folks who come out of homelessness, people with behavioral health needs, and seniors. These state bonds provide capital that developers can leverage to secure additional funds to build homes. State housing bonds are a critical way we, as a society, step up together to create funds that no one else will provide.

This upcoming 2020 session is a bonding year, and Beacon, along with Homes For All, a broad housing coalition we’re part of, is advocating for a historic amount of Housing Infrastructure Bonds.

We are asking the governor and state legislature to pass $500 million in housing bonds. The need is so great, and continues to increase: 500,000 Minnesota households do not have an affordable home.

Our society has an abundance of resources to meet the need: we can and should increase our response to ensure that all people have a home.

Beacon is one of many organizations working on this issue, and we are an important voice in the choir that needs to be heard by our legislators. As a leader in developing supportive housing using housing bonds, we know their real impact. A real impact for people like Meriem. We also know the great need and will work to advocate strongly for a historic amount of housing bonds.

We can together work to invest a historic amount of our public dollars so we move a step closer to our vision that all people have a home.