Wages haven’t kept pace with housing prices nationally since the 1970s. In Minnesota, between 2000 and 2015, the median renter's wage decreased by 11 percent while the gross rent went up by 9 percent.

According to Fatima Moore, director of public policy for the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, “The local housing climate is bleak. Minnesotans are feeling the stress of our strained housing market. If we do not make strategic investments along the housing continuum, more families will continue to be cost-burdened, and unable to secure financial stability for the foreseeable future. When people have safe and affordable places to live, they tend to spend more of their personal income on healthcare, education, and their family’s needs. Therefore, communities do better due to the increase in finances and social capital."

Moore notes that, since the 1940s, race and class have played an important role in housing policies. Neighborhoods have been redlined — refused loans because they live in a high financial risk area. “Property values have decreased, and communities with large populations of residents of color have been under-resourced,” she says. “Additionally, families are currently spending [a larger percentage of income] on housing than they have in the past and are cost-burdened due to the lack of available affordable rents.”

We know where we live impacts everything. Children learn, workers earn, seniors thrive, and communities prosper. Yet today, entire families have been displaced. Kids are unable to focus in school because of housing insecurities. Jobs are lost. Health care goes unattended.

Moore sees a three-pronged solution – view housing as an integral part of achieving and maintaining stability for Minnesotans by:

1) Creating new affordable housing and preserving
current affordable housing stock,

2) Funding supportive social programs,

3) Involving those with direct experience in designing solutions.

She is working with Homes for All on a $150-million legislative agenda that would provide for 4,650 households across Minnesota.