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Housing Advocates Kick Off $130M Campaign for MN Homeless

Minnesota housing advocates are asking state lawmakers to consider investments in housing and services for low-income residents. (iStockphoto)
Minnesota housing advocates are asking state lawmakers to consider investments in housing and services for low-income residents. (iStockphoto)
January 21, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With thousands of families facing homelessness in Minnesota, a group of affordable-housing advocates are kicking off a campaign in St. Paul today to help with the statewide problem.

The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless reports about 14,000 Minnesotans don't have a home.

About half the homeless population is under 21 years old. Kenza Hadj-Moussa, communications director for the coalition, says her group will be asking state lawmakers to set aside $130 million in bonds for affordable housing.

"These funds are used to both create supportive housing for Minnesotans experiencing homelessness, as well as to preserve public housing for very low-income families, individuals and seniors,"says Hadj-Moussa.

Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton suggested setting aside $90 million for affordable housing. Hadj-Moussa says that move is an excellent start, but more can be done to help.

In 2014, Minnesota approved $100 million for affordable-housing programs, which Hadj-Moussa says helped more than 7,000 low-income households throughout the state. This year, the group also is asking for a policy change to allow the money to be used on senior-only housing.

"We know there's a really high need for affordable senior housing for Minnesotans over the age of 55 who are living about $30,000 a year or less, and that need is around the state," she says.

If lawmakers do approve the group's request for $130 million, about $20 million would go toward rehabbing existing public housing units.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN