MN Senate allocates $50M to homelessness aid

A picture of St. Paul, Minnesota during the day time
A picture of St. Paul, Minnesota during the day time(Quinn Gorham)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 6:12 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, MN (GRAY) -- The Minnesota Senate passed a $50 million investment in combatting homelessness in the state.

The vote passed 42-21 with bipartisan support Monday.

HF 1440 allocates money to the state’s existing Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP).

“Really, it’s key to preventing homelessness before it happens,” said Senate Chief Author Lindsey Port (DFL - Burnsville).

The FHPAP is a state-run program that has been providing families experiencing or at risk of homelessness with financial assistance and services for decades.

Port said the program has a proven track record.

Port explained the program often helps create a more equitable outcome for struggling families and helps them get back on their feet.

“Once a family experiences homelessness, all of the other outcomes, education, drug prospects, health outcomes go down drastically,” she said.

The recent investment of $50 million is much larger than the amount normally allocated to the program.

According to Port, during the last biennium, $50 million was the total budget for housing issues as a whole.

She said this biennium’s housing budget target of $1 billion is more than the last eight bienniums combined.

“This year we’ll pass a billion dollars in investments to really build the housing supply we need to keep the public housing and preserve the affordable housing we have,” Port said.

Roughly a dozen Senate Republicans voted for the bill Monday.

One of those was Senator Zach Duckworth (R - Lakeville) who believes housing is one of the most pressing issues in Minnesota right now.

“Combating homelessness and preventing it amongst Minnesotans and their families is obviously a very important and critical thing that the state should be focused on. It’s something that routinely Republicans and Democrats do come together with to try to combat,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth wholeheartedly supported the bill’s passage but also defended his GOP counterparts who voted against it.

Duckworth believes those senators also understand the gravity of the situation but believe there are more pressing issues facing the state.

“You have some legislators that are saying, until we get some of that money back to people, which should be a priority, they have a hard time allocating or spending money even on what seemed to be the noblest of causes,” he said.

The $50 million is for the 2023 fiscal year, meaning once signed by Governor Walz, it’s available for funding through June 30, 2024.