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School Superintendents Push Lawmakers For More Affordable Housing

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(credit: CBS) Nina Moini
Nina Moini joined the WCCO-TV team in August of 2013. She reports f...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Representatives from some of the state’s largest school districts say there are more homeless children now than ever before.

Superintendents from St. Paul and Minneapolis schools joined lawmakers on Wednesday to push for $100 million for more affordable housing. It’s a serious problem for school children hoping to make major strides in education, officials said.

Of the roughly 14,000 people who are homeless every night around the Twin Cities, half are under 21 years old, according to Minnesota 2020. Housing advocates and school officials said Wednesday that since the recovery of the housing crisis in Minnesota in the past five years, conditions haven’t improved much for low-income families and renters.

The proposed $100 million could begin to make a dent in these numbers by creating 5,000 new housing units. A big concern for St. Paul and Minneapolis school superintendents is that more children can’t focus in school because they don’t have a stable home.

“Quite frankly, we take our mission seriously of educating students to have them college and career-ready, but we also know if you’re not in a safe home and you don’t have a safe place to learn and to live that that’s impactful to your learning experience,” said Bernadeia Johnson, with Minneapolis Public Schools.

“Imagine the resilience of those students waking up every day and coming to school because that’s the only stable place they have. Does that affect learning? Absolutely,” said Valeria Silva, of St. Paul Public Schools.

The money is tucked into the greater bonding bill to be passed by the end of the session in May. The question will be how much of that $100 million, lawmakers actually approve.

And it’s not just being pushed by Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts. Officials said administrators from Anoka-Hennepin, Rochester and Brooklyn Center are also joining the effort, though they were not at Wednesday’s meeting.

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