Recent press coverage over the past few months has brought into the open a crisis that has been years in the making – there are not enough places to call home for those most in need in our area. Why? A number of factors are at play here. A lack of affordable housing options, combined with rising rents and stagnant wages for many, has created an unsustainable housing crisis. Homelessness – often “invisible” to those not experiencing it – has become heartbreakingly visible in our community.
Across the region, Catholic Charities sees the impacts of the housing crisis firsthand. Did you know that Catholic Charities operates four of the region’s largest emergency shelters (two for adults, one for youth and one for families)? On any given night, Catholic Charities provides shelter and homes for more than 1,800 people. All of their shelters are full, and the individuals and families they work with face long wait lists for the few affordable housing units available on the market. In St. Paul, Catholic Charities is a key partner in opening the Winter Safe Space, a 64-bed temporary emergency shelter open from November – April. This collaborative, called Rush/Outside-In, is a powerful multi-sector effort focused on the St. Paul/East Metro area. In Minneapolis, Catholic Charities is following the direction of the key Native American organizations leading the emergency response to the Hiawatha encampment. A Navigation Center is anticipated to be opened in December, which will provide shelter and support services through the winter months.
Here at Guardian Angels, many of you already know that we work in partnership with St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and with 30 other congregations to offer shelter to up to 7 families at a time in the space that once was the parish rectory. Our parish has been a consistent financial contributor to this ministry and has also stepped up with key in-kind and volunteer support over these past six years.
All of these responses are needed and necessary. We also need to work together to change the root causes of homelessness and to increase the supply of affordable housing in our community. With the new legislative session coming up, it is critical that we amplify voices on issues connected to affordable housing.
Here are two specific things that you can do right now to make a difference:
- You can sign up for advocacy alerts and let your elected officials know you care: https://www.cctwincities.org/education-advocacy/take-action-now/.
- You can save the date on your calendar to attend the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition at their annual Day on the Hill, when affordable housing will be on the agenda. For more information, go to www.jrlc.org.