In the tapestry of a society, critical threads are that every member has a place to call home, access to sufficient food, opportunities for education and work, strong relationships, and good health. You pull any of those threads too tightly, and there is a snag. You get several snags and the entire fabric buckles. In the following pages, we go deeper with two of the issues that are impacting the health of community: affordable housing and mental health. We look at how those threads are snagged, and hear from women who are part of the solutions.

In December 2017, the Governor’s Task Force on Housing was announced, charged with recommending policies and practices to meet the housing needs throughout the state. According to the governor’s office, the number of Minnesota households struggling to afford quality housing has increased 58 percent since the year 2000, to more than 554,000 households. 

Many of the issues of cost, safety and housing stability impact female-headed households in metro areas, but Minnesota’s towns and rural areas also have housing problems. Minnesota Housing Partnership produced a “State of the State’s Housing” report, published in March 2017, which is the source of the data in this story. 
The report revealed:

• One out of every four families pays more than they can afford for housing.

• More than 9,300 Minnesotans faced homelessness in 2015, including 3,500 children.

Half of the voting members of the Governor’s task force are women. Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, says its mission is to “increase our understanding of the state’s housing supply and deliver strategies to preserve existing affordable homes and create the new housing needed.”