Minnesota: Out in the cold
Minnesota’s statewide housing crisis is impacting Minnesotans at every point in the housing continuum, but not group is in more danger than the unsheltered- the dramatically increasing number of people living in their cars, under bridges, in stairwells and other places not meant for human habitation. This population is growing quickly, and it is time for Minnesotans to act”.
1. On any given night, nearly 8,000 people experience homelessness across Minnesota ~25% are unsheltered, ⅓ are children and more than 60% are people of color
2. Unsheltered communities in the Twin Cities have experienced a dramatic 50% increase between 2019 and 2020
3. In greater Minnesota the number of unsheltered has increased by 32% between 2019 and 2020
4. The number of guest Higher Ground Saint Paul serves a night has seen an increase from 280 to 356 without an increase in public funding to help keep pace with increased services
5. [Because of low funding] in 2019, Catholic Charities Hope Street, was forced to turn away almost 1,000 young people
ESP: A Public Answer to a Public Housing Crisis
Minnesota’s homelessness crisis has strained the shelter system and forced providers to rely on private funding and their own reserves at an unsustainable rate. Public funding has been largely stagnant for years. This along with declines in significant sources of private support have put at risk the stability of the state’s shelter system, and the situation has been made worse by the financial pressures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without increased public financial support, shelter programs are limited in the support they can provide to help out Minnesotans on a path to housing stability. This creates additional pressures on first responders and emergency healthcare services, as individuals in need find themselves with nowhere else to turn for help. The emergency services program is currently the states only investment to help Minnesota’s shelter providers respond to the unsheltered crisis- significant and stable state investments are needed to support the ongoing operations of emergency shelters and respond to the immediate needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emergency Shelters Save Lives
Shelters provide dignified spaces and life-saving services to individuals and families across the state. The flexibility of the Emergency Services Program is critical to meeting their needs and can be used to pay for food, bedding, laundry, transportation, housing, and employment counselors, mental health staff, cleaning, hotel vouchers and more.
What Must Be Done
There are 3 things that must be done in order to sustain the emergency services program and reduce Minnesota’s statewide housing crisis.
1. Increase public funding for Minnesota’s shelter system by investing $15 million a biennium in ongoing ESP funding to meet needs statewide.
2. Provide emergency aid to support immediate needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
3. Pursue aggressive permanent housing strategies developed by state, county and municipal leaders in partnership with service providers, including strengthening investments in Housing support.