Hope for solving housing crisis in Duluth and throughout Minnesota

On Monday, February 5th residents and housing advocates met with local legislators in hope of solving the housing crisis in Duluth and throughout the state. People met with Minnesota Senator Jen McEwen and Minnesota Representative Liish Kozlowski a week before the Legislative Session.

Nancy Cashman, the Executive Director of Center City Housing said reliable state funding would be a huge step.

“There’s no such thing as predictable, stable, ongoing housing. It shifts and comes and goes.” Cashman said. “I’ve been working in this business for almost 40 years, these grant sources, just shift and change all the time. So having something dedicated and committed that really address the housing issues in a really impactful way would be really great for Duluth and the state of Minnesota.”

For people experiencing homelessness it can be difficult to get into any sort of stable housing. Folks do have hope for solving the housing crisis, this legislative session as Minnesota’s northern representatives are taking concerns to St. Paul. Senator Jen McEwen says a solution is state programs.

“Our private housing market will not solve our housing issues. Right? I mean, it just won’t,” McEwen said. “There isn’t going to be housing provided because it’s there’s going to be certain parts of our needs that are not going to be profitable enough. What it really needs is sustained funding.”

According to the Minnesota Housing Partnership, more than 20,000 residents in St. Louis County are cost-burdened. These are people who spend more than third of their household income on rent. This means they have little money leftover for things like food, clothing, and also medicine. However, Representative Liish Kozlowski says the work continues to protect renters.

“I think some of the things that uplift is things like Tenants Bill of Rights that we did. This just went into effect,” Kozlowski said. “We’re hearing from Partners at Home Line, who do a lot with the eviction process, and talking directly to renters. They’re telling us that there was a massive drop off in evictions this month. That’s just evidence that, like, what we’re doing is working and we have to keep pressing on.”

Concerns with housing also extend to non-profit organizations helping unsheltered people with volunteering and donations. Noah Hobbs is the Director of Strategy and Policy with One Roof and said now is the time to lend a hand to those in need.

“It’s connecting with your state legislative delegation, letting them know that housing is a priority for you and how important it is for our community,” Hobbs said. “Also working with local organizations when they have volunteer needs as well.”

While there is still time to reach out to local legislators, they might not be as available the closer to the Legislative Session date. To find out who is your local representative you can read more here. Also for other stories with housing you can read more here.