By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Hundreds of advocates for the homeless came to the capitol Tuesday asking lawmakers to fund programs they say could dramatically reduce the number of people without a place to call home.

Several bills are pending at the legislature, but there’s no guarantee they’ll pass. Homeless groups and housing organizations are hoping the legislature can put a dent in homelessness. But even with a near-record budget surplus, a rise in funding for these programs is not a sure thing.

The good news is that the number of homeless people in Minnesota is down. The not so good news: more than 10,000 people are homeless.

Senta Leff is executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.

“More than half of them are children,” she said. “Half of those kids are under the age of 5.”

Leff is part of a group asking lawmakers to fund transitional housing for 1,000 homeless people, housing for people with mental illness, long term support services and hotel vouchers for seldom-noticed homeless people in rural Minnesota.

“People will find heated dog homes, heated dog houses, and tuck their children to bed inside of there,” Leff said. “They’ll sleep inside of fish houses on frozen lakes. They’ll walk the aisles of 24/7 Walmarts. They’ll find an empty bed in a local hospital and hope that no one opens the door that night.”

Minnesota lawmakers are hearing the homeless bill at a time of a $1.6 billion budget surplus. Some Republicans think high taxes are one reason the homeless aren’t getting more help.

“It actually stifles private sector growth,” Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) said. “And the result is we have fewer tax dollars to meet the needs of the people of Minnesota who really need that help.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are worried that extra money won’t go for homeless programs.

“One of those big pieces this year is going to have to be for tax cuts, for wealthy Minnesotans — probably a lot of it,” Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) said. “And so that won’t go into health and human services.”

Minnesota homeless groups worked hard in the last few years to help homeless veterans, and that number is dropping. Importantly, now they say the priority should be Minnesota’s 5,000 homeless children. Their average age is 8 years old.

Comments (4)
  1. Jeff Mannino says:

    Patrick you’re clearly in bed with the DFL(maybe literally) in this state. don’t you ever feel as if you’re giving free milk and they ain’t buying the cow? Why don’t you write these objectively rather than opinionated. You don’t pull the curtain you repeat the narrative.

  2. Homes are unaffordable — people who appraise homes aren’t using the median income of low income people too.

    A single person has to live in a state of severe debt if they want a home or apartment. Just so banks can artificially inflate homes and liberals can pretend minimum wage is suppose to be $15/hr.

  3. WE HAVE housing assistance, general assistance, food assistance. There is some reason that people are not getting or accepting the help that is available NOW. What is that reason?? There is NO reason that anyone who is homeless should not be getting help with existing programs. So let’s quit the fluff stuff and get down to brass tacks. WHY do we have homeless when there is already a way to solve that problem?? WHY are people opting NOT TO DEAL WITH OUR STATE GOVERNMENT to obtain benefits that are available to them NOW?? Those are some real questions I’d like to see answered. No amount of funding programs goes out on the street and finds out why people are not using them.

  4. Import tens of thousands of Muslims from Somalia, Africa, Mideast and what do you expect? A housing shortage. Those immigrants already receive heavily subsidized housing because they do not work. That causes other ethnic populations in that area to flea further out. Minnesota Democrats created the homeless mess and the welfare-state mess. Their plans to fix it always make it worse.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Good Question
Best Of Minnesota
Excellent Educator

Watch & Listen LIVE