At the Capitol: Homeless Elders Program

An Opportunity to Invest in Our Homeless Elders

Minnesota has a historic state budget surplus, and Catholic Charities is at the Capitol this Legislative Session advocating for increased public funding to support emergency shelter services and for policies that promote better housing outcomes for our community.

One of our priorities this year is to secure stable funding for Catholic Charities’ Homeless Elders program as part of the Health and Human Services omnibus bill.

What is Catholic Charities’ Homeless Elders program?

Older adults are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Many are first-time homeless and a majority have chronic health conditions, mental illness, cognitive impairment, or disability — limiting their ability to complete daily activities like eating, bathing, and dressing.

Since 2008, the Homeless Elders program has helped low-income older adults move into stable housing by providing intensive case management from experienced staff. However, the waitlist to receive assistance through the Homeless Elders program averages 60 individuals and three to four months. Older adults experiencing homelessness simply cannot afford those wait times, which leave them at risk of poor health outcomes and premature death.

In 2023, bills in both the House of Representatives and Senate have proposed annual dedicated funding for this program, which would increase capacity and reduce waiting periods for aging Minnesotans in need. This funding has advanced to the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill — sign up for Action Alerts below to help tell lawmakers that this work matters!

March 24, 2023: Hearing in Senate Health & Human Services Committee

Watch Senator Tou Xiong (District 44), Catholic Charities Program Supervisor Melea Blanchard, and Homeless Elders Client Carol Atkinson-Sullivan testify in support of Senate File 2813:


Carol Shares Her Story

“My name is Carol Atkinson-Sullivan, and I am speaking on behalf of myself as an elder who previously struggled with housing issues. I was homeless from March 2021 until April of 2022 and lived in two Salvation Army shelters. Besides being homeless, I was trying to manage my own health issues and also dealing with my son Eric, who suffered a massive left-brain stroke in 2020 leaving him paralyzed on his right side and with aphasia. With COVID running rampant, I could not even visit him.

When I was at the shelter, a gentleman took me to Catholic Charities. There I met [Program Supervisor] Melea, who helped me get into the Homeless Elders program. Within three months I was able to apply for Section 8 housing voucher, and in April of 2022 I was able to secure a two-bedroom place for my son and I—Eric could finally leave the nursing home.

None of this would have been possible without the help of Catholic Charities and Melea’s in-depth knowledge of resources. Had I not been referred to this program, I would not be alive and my son would be a ward of the state and forgotten about. Having a stable home has indeed been a blessing. My son and I are together, and he has recovered immensely—he can now use a walker, he has more movement in his right arm, and his speech is improving. I’ve been able to focus on improving my own health too, and I am able to process and recover from a very traumatic year of being homeless.

I would invite [lawmakers] to contact me and discuss the outrageous mess our elderly are in with so-called “affordable housing”.

We are not disposable. We are not stupid. We deserve dignity and respect.

I thank you again for listening, hopefully hearing us from your hearts. Please support this program.”

– Carol Atkinson-Sullivan, Homeless Elders Client

Homeless Elders Testimony at Capitol



1. Sign up for Action Alerts: Lawmakers respond when their constituents reach out about an issue—and the more people they hear from, the more likely it is that they will prioritize that issue. Our Action Alerts automatically match you with your elected officials, notify you when your voice is needed, and you can let them know you care with a few clicks!

2. Learn More about Catholic Charities Advocacy, including our 2023 Legislative Agenda.

3. Follow Catholic Charities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and opportunities to get involved this Legislative Session!

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