MN State lawmakers seeking millions for greater MN homeless and - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

MN State lawmakers seeking millions for greater MN homeless and housing struggles

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More than 9,000 people are homeless in Minnesota, according to a recent study.

That could be changing as two bills make their way through the legislature aiming to assist those in need.  

Two proposed bills could add a combined 136 million dollars to the state's affordable housing efforts.

That money would be dedicated toward providing long-term, transitional and emergency housing, as well as  financial assistance and counseling.

Margie Nelson with Lifehouse, a Duluth-based organization that helps homeless youth, says more housing is a must.  

"There just isn't enough housing units, and especially supportive housing. Having this housing support, really helps people kind of maintain that housing. A lot of them have a lot of barriers and difficulties that they're dealing with, and just having the support to help keep them in housing goes a long way." Said Nelson. 

Lawmakers are also seeking a 100 dollar increase to the Minnesota Family Investment Programs cash assistance program. 

It's something Lee Stuart, Executive Director of CHUM, an organization that helps low income Duluth residents, says would help more than just the families.

"It's important to know that most people are not on MFIP for a long time; it's a short step up." Said Stuart. 

Currently the program offers just over just over 500 dollars in monthly assistance for families working towards full-time employment. It's a number that hasn't grown in 30 years.

"It's really a travesty that it hasn't been linked to either inflation, or cost of living or anything since 1986." Said Stuart. 

The proposed funding would also assist people with serious mental health illnesses. 

Something that affects half of CHUMs residents. 

"To really end homelessness, we have to start addressing gaps in the mental health care and in chemical and alcohol dependency care." Said Stuart. 

At least one of these bills could be heard by the house human services finance committee by Thursday. 

After that the legislation would need to be approved by the house before making their way to the senate. 

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