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Reader's view: Legislators help in effort to end homelessness

A June 21 letter said we are just paying lip service in the struggle to end homelessness. Although the struggle continues, real progress is being made, and we have our legislators to thank for their efforts to make a real difference.

A June 21 letter said we are just paying lip service in the struggle to end homelessness. Although the struggle continues, real progress is being made, and we have our legislators to thank for their efforts to make a real difference.

Sens. Roger Reinert, Tom Bakk, David Tomassoni and Tony Lourey, and Reps. Tom Huntley, Eric Simonson, Mary Murphy, Jason Metsa, David Dill and Carly Melin all worked hard during the past legislative session to pass legislation that invests an additional $33 million to help precariously housed and homeless households. These funds will be used to prevent homelessness and expand affordable-housing options to ensure every Minnesotan has a safe and decent place to call home.

The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency will receive $26 million of these funds for family homelessness prevention, rental assistance, affordable housing and more. The Department of Human Services will receive $7 million for emergency shelter, transitional housing, supportive services and the Homeless Youth Act.

For every $1 provided for supportive housing for the homeless, the return to Minnesota taxpayers is $1.44. It is far more cost effective to house people than to make them rely on emergency services.

As participants in the Affordable Housing Coalition, a group of more than 20 organizations working and collaborating to end homelessness, we commend our Duluth and Iron Range legislators for this great effort. This investment marks significant progress and a move in the right direction, but we still have work to do.

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Homelessness costs us all. Most people are surprised to learn children and youth comprise nearly half of Minnesota's homeless population. We pay for homelessness -- but the good news is workable solutions exist. The Legislature has taken positive steps to prevent and eliminate homelessness, and we will see results from their effort.

Val Strukel

Eveleth

The writer is an advocacy fellow for the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.

Rick Ball

Duluth

The writer is executive director of the Duluth Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

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