What Does This Moment Ask of Us?

Dan Gregory September 28, 2018

by Lee Blons, Executive Director

Beacon’s mission says, “As a collaborative of congregations united in action we create homes and advance equitable housing.” What a perfect mission for the time and place we find ourselves in.

The Governor’s Task Force on Housing recently released a report recommending six broad goals we as Minnesotans should tackle in order to make our state and homes affordable for everyone. The report doesn’t shy away from the crisis we’re facing: there aren’t enough affordable homes, and it’s making it harder for our communities to grow. And it’s realistic in the assertion that it’s going to take all of us – investment from the private sector, government, and nonprofits – to make a credible change. The very fact that there was a Task Force reflects a growing awareness in our community about the huge scope of the problem of homelessness and affordable housing and a resolve to do something about them.

The full report and recommendations can be found here. What is encouraging to me is that Beacon is well-positioned to respond to so many of the needs identified by others in the field. The collaborative has committed to two new campaigns – to create more homes and to create dedicated public funding sources for affordable homes – which address several of the goals. In particular, the endorsement of a dedicated public funding source is really significant! It signals an understanding that we need stable, dependable public investment in homes that isn’t subject to political whims or gridlock. The on-site support services and increased rental assistance that tie-in with these campaigns are also listed as priorities by the Task Force. Strengthening the public commitment to housing as a key pillar of thriving communities occurs as our congregational members take courses through Beacon Academy and impact policy by organizing. We’ve been paying attention to emerging pain points and opportunities, discerning how we can make the greatest impact and take risks in the fight for justice. As we’ve done so, we’ve been recognized as a leader in creating homes and advancing equitable housing.

And Beacon is committed to leading into the future.

Communities of faith have a vital role to play in getting the goals of the Task Force off the page and into action. This is what Beacon excels in. We know this! Beacon was founded as people of faith saw a need in their neighborhood and stepped up. Our values unite and sustain us through adversity, and let’s face it: the sheer size of the crisis in affordable housing is daunting. But our unique voice in the midst of this effort declares, ‘We’ve been here before, and we’ve made it through!’ We draw strength from the faiths which center our actions and compel us to lead with a vision of hope.

Expanding society’s commitment to affordable housing is at the heart of our mission, and this moment gives us a unique chance to join our voices with organizations, elected officials, and community members from across Minnesota in a common cause. This Task Force was convened by the current governor, and we need our next governor to take up the mantle of leadership on this issue that is so vital to the health and vibrancy of our state. That’s why we’ve asked both Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz to commit to joining us at our January Convening if they win. There’s going to be a lot of important things demanding the attention of the new governor, and we know it will take hundreds of people from across the collaborative showing up to remind them that housing is a priority they must address. And it’s going to take a persistence on our part, our eyes fixed on the vision, our showing up and our speaking out, to see home become a reality for more of us.

Let’s step in to this moment united in action to create homes and advance equitable housing. Let’s remind law makers that we’re watching and we care about how they respond to this critical need. Let’s proclaim that this collaborative of faith communities is willing to take risks again and again and again so that all people have a home. Let’s stand up and be counted among those who said ‘yes!’ when the doors of opportunity opened just a bit further.

The Governor’s Task Force on Housing did deep, intentional, great work in preparing their report. Now it’s our turn to make its recommendations a reality!