Housing support is a statewide program that exists to help people achieve and maintain housing stability. Directed towards seniors and adults with disabilities who have low incomes and who are at risk of homelessness or institutional placement, the program helps pay for housing costs, including rent, utilities, food, bed linens, laundry and housing supplies. More than half of recipients are people of color or American Indians.
• 30% of residents are aged 55+
• 65% of residents report having a disability
• 32% of residents report having no income at entry
In 2019, Housing Support moved more than 3,900 individuals out of homelessness and into stable housing.
There are many challenges that housing support faces one of them being, the maximum base rate for Housing Support (currently $934) has not kept pace with the average cost of rent and the additional supports (food, laundry, etc.) required of the program. This makes it harder for housing providers to administer the program and creates a disincentive for new landlords to participate in the program at a time when we are already facing an affordable housing shortage.
Catholic Charities staff spends nearly as much time rehousing existing clients due to an inability to meet rising housing costs as they spend assisting eligible Housing Support recipients who are still experiencing homelessness and waiting for a housing placement.
Housing is healthcare
Individuals should not have to choose between housing or healthcare, Housing is healthcare.
Many adults experiencing homelessness have a chronic physical health condition, mental illness or substance use disorder that makes it more difficult to find and keep stable housing.
Among Catholic Charities clients who self reported a need to see a medical professional:
• 36% indicated it was for physical health problems
• 27% indicated it was for emotional or mental health problems
• 8% indicated it was for alcohol or drug problems
Source: 2018 Wilder Homeless Study.
In order to strengthen Housing support and promote a greater stability for residents and landlords we must:
1. Increase base rate funding by $100 a month to help landlords and service providers maintain and add critical Housing Support units across Minnesota.
2. Wave temporary absence requirements to ensure residents aren’t penalized for seeking needed healthcare, including substance use or mental health treatment.
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.