Press Conference at the Capitol

We’re just six weeks into the 2023 Minnesota Legislative Session, and a landmark bill is already advancing through the House and Senate. Catholic Charities CEO Michael Goar joined lawmakers and community partners for a Capitol press conference urging quick passage of the “Pathway Home Act”. This bill would provide critical investments in Minnesota’s Emergency Services Program, Homeless Youth Act and shelter infrastructure.

Leadership Statements from the Capitol Press Conference:

Representative Aisha Gomez, District 62A

“We’re here today to talk about unfinished business for our state. We know that people who have been in emergency shelter response and homelessness response over the last few years in our state have done incredible work with not enough resources. All during a time that was filled with uncertainty and terror, and uncertainty of really what might happen. Our intention is to finish that business, is to get support out to all corners of our state, and to help people who are struggling.”


Rhonda Otteson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless

“On any given night, there are about 20,000 people here in Minnesota who are experiencing homelessness and 50,000 people will experience homelessness over the course of this year. The last Wilder study saw a 62% increase in the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, which includes significant overrepresentation of our BIPOC and LGBTQ populations. 77% of adults have experienced homelessness multiple times here in Minnesota, and the Pathway Home Act will move us closer to homelessness being brief, rare and non-recurring.”


Beth Holger, CEO of The Link Minnesota

“Our Minnesota youth are sleeping in the entryways to buildings, cars, encampments, abandoned buildings, or are forced to exchange sex for a place to stay. They are going through horrible rates of violence, abuse, and trauma that no human being should ever have to endure at any point. We can end youth homelessness. We have the data. We have the incredible network of youth providers across the state, and we know exactly how we can end youth homelessness: by investing in our state’s Homeless Youth Act. We don’t have any time to wait, this is a life and death decision to make, and we need to make it sooner rather than later.”


Claudette, Testifier with Lived Expertise

“I became homeless in 2014 due to losing my job and exhausting all my savings trying to keep my apartment. I grew up in Jamaica and came to the United States in 1999. I was shocked to learn that so many people are homeless here, because it’s a rich country. Other countries don’t have all the opportunity that we do here, yet homelessness doesn’t exist in Jamaica. My experience staying in the shelter was traumatic, but if people in shelter struggling with mental health, addiction, and disabilities were able to get the right services and support, my experience likely would have been better. I never want to be homeless again, but I want to use my experience to change the system and make things better for all the people.”


Michael Goar, CEO of Catholic Charities Twin Cities

“In any given year we serve over 20,000 folks who are faced with homelessness. Shelter is a place where you can meet your basic needs. It saddens me that we are here today once again seeking support, but there are many great leaders here behind me and beside me, who are pushing for this legislation. We need funding today. We need better public-private partnership to really address this issue as quickly as we can. Because if we don’t, we’re talking about the lives of real people seeking services and support.”


Molly Jalma, Executive Director of Listening House Saint Paul

“When overnight shelters close, there are only a few of us who are open during the day. There is a lot of urgency. We are seeing new people every day. Last year alone we saw 3000 unique users of our services and we are small, but 3000 is a lot—and it’s only growing. There needs to be more spaces throughout the entire state. When rural Minnesota does better, we do better here. People shouldn’t have to come to the city to charge their phone and be able to sit down somewhere or take a shower.”


Representative Liz Reyer, District 52A

“Homelessness can happen to anyone. It happened to me as a result of domestic violence. Without the shelter and services my baby son and I received from Women’s Advocates Shelter, Ramsey County, and the State of Minnesota, I am sure I wouldn’t be standing before you here today. But homelessness is so much more common in our black and brown communities because of consistent underinvestment and structural racism. Indigenous people are 30 times as likely and black people 12 times as likely than white people to be homeless. Due to lack of safe options, many are in shelters. Hundreds of young people, particularly LGBTQIA+, do not have a permanent home. The Pathway Home Act provides a variety of solutions including: funding for new shelter space and the services that bring them to life, additional funding for the successful Homeless Youth Act and for transitional housing, establishment of a chosen family program, and reliable funding to support the Homeless Management Information System. We need to fund the Pathway Home Act and other legislation that addresses homelessness. It’s an act of compassion, of justice, of humanity.”


Senator D. Scott Dibble, District 61

“Homelessness is a human tragedy. It is the culmination of the failure of so many things in our state. We are the wealthiest country at a time in which we have created the most resources in human history. While, at the same time, since the dawn of the industrial and then information age, we’ve seen that wealth concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Homelessness is not something that exists in isolation. It is a failure of those structures I described before. But we need to make sure that we can deliver the crucial things that people need: affordable transportation, access to healthcare and nutritious food, a decent education, job training, affordable childcare, and secure retirement. The effort we’re talking about today is simply to respond to the emergency of homelessness that exists in our state and get people indoors. The cost of not solving homelessness is so much higher in all the ways you can well imagine—in our healthcare system, our criminal justice system, and on. But the opportunity that is lost is even greater when people can’t live and be their best selves and bring all of their talent, creativity, when they can’t fully participate in our economy as workers and consumers.”


Representative Heather Keeler, District 4A

“I decided that we need to come forward with a solution. So we listened to the pieces and components that mattered the most to you. We built a path that hopefully other people can add their stones onto. We have [committee] chairs here that sit at tables that are all about preventing homelessness. This is not an end-all bill. And I want to be very clear about this—this is not designed to, in one snap, end homelessness. It is an investment in our future generations. As an Indigenous woman, we believe that the work that we do impacts seven generations. People we will never even know.

Your pain, we have turned into purpose. Your stories, we have heard you. This is a good day in Minnesota, bringing all of these people—I’ve been in this room a couple times and I have never seen it look this beautiful. This is what advocacy looks like. I’m looking at people who aren’t even old enough to vote yet. This is your future. This is what happens when you show up and you tell us your story, we listen to you, we hear you. We’re here to do better for you. So thank you to everybody who’s been on this journey with us. Thank you for having the bravery and the courage to share your stories.”


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 single click!

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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