2021 Legislative Agenda Prioritizes Racial Equity and Social Justice

Catholic Charities’ Board of Directors approved this week a robust state legislative agenda centered on advancing racial equity and social justice initiatives. The agenda, developed over the course of several months with input from Catholic Charities’ staff, clients and partners, can be found in its entirety here.

Leading on Emergency Shelters and COVID-19 Relief

Building off momentum gained throughout the last year, Catholic Charities will continue to prioritize and lead legislation that increases funding for the Emergency Services Program, which supports emergency shelter operations and wraparound day services for thousands of Minnesotans experiencing homelessness across Minnesota. Our ask includes $7.5 million in annual, ongoing funding to meet the statewide needs of Minnesota’s emergency shelter system, with additional one-time funding to support the significant costs tied to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Emergency shelters save lives and reduce strains on our public safety and emergency healthcare services. The need for these critical, life-saving services existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will remain even after the pandemic ends, but shelter providers cannot continue to operate and safely serve those in need without more stable public funding.

Reforming Housing Support to Promote Stability and Prevent Homelessness

As we work to ensure Minnesotans continue to have a safe place to shelter from the cold and the pandemic, we also are working to improve paths toward stable housing by strengthening Housing Support programs. Directed towards seniors and adults with disabilities who have low incomes and who are at risk of homelessness, Housing Support helps pay for housing costs, including rent, utilities, food, bed and linens, laundry and household supplies—the common necessities beyond the four walls of one’s residence that help one achieve and maintain housing stability.

Catholic Charities is leading legislation that increases base rate funding for Housing Support and ensures individuals can access required healthcare treatment, including substance use and mental health treatment, without fear of losing their housing. This legislation will bring greater stability for both residents and landlords.

Supporting our Partners to Further Advance Racial Equity and Social Justice

In addition to the policy solutions we are leading, Catholic Charities is actively engaged with partners to advance additional policies and programs that further our goal of racial equity and social justice. This includes:

Policies and programs that promote housing stability, prevent homelessness, and recognize housing as healthcare.
Examples include eviction reforms to ensure transparency in process and to fairly balance the power between tenants and landlords when loss of housing is at stake; the establishment of a Medicaid recuperative care model; and reforming housing assistance programs so recipients can maintain more of their personal income.
Policies and programs that promote the health and well-being of children adults and families.
Examples include ensuring all Minnesotans have access to comprehensive health care and telehealth options; strengthening efforts to end hunger and food insecurity; increasing access to mental health services, paid family and medical leave and affordable childcare; and increasing diversity in the healthcare workforce.
Policies and programs that advance social justice, end racism, and promote economic and community vitality.
Examples include criminal justice reform; removing barriers to people experiencing housing instability to vote, including restoring voting rights; ending license suspensions for unpaid traffic tickets; and investing in a robust public transportation system.

Advocate with Catholic Charities

The start of the 2021 legislative session presents a new opportunity to build a better, more equitable future for all Minnesotans, and at Catholic Charities of St. Paul & Minneapolis, we’re ready to work in coalition with our partners, lawmakers and you to make it happen.

We encourage you to sign up for our action alerts to add your voice to our advocacy at critical decision points during session, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional updates!

Lorna Schmidt
Lorna Schmidt
As a member of the Social Justice Advocacy & Engagement team, I lead the strategic development and execution of Catholic Charities' public policy agenda. My work covers local, state and federal levels, advocating for policies and programs that promote justice in the community.

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