Homeless Day on the Hill

I’ve seen a few busy Wednesdays here at Central Presbyterian Church. Our Wednesday lunches attract a great crowd of people hungry for good food and lunchtime fellowship with our neighbors. Last Wednesday, March 13, however, was the busiest Wednesday I’ve seen yet. With over 800 participants, the Homeless Day on the Hill filled our sanctuary with people from all over the state of Minnesota ready to advocate for those experiencing homelessness. These people were hungry, not just for food, but for change.

Minnesota’s unsheltered population is still very high. In fact, the state’s unsheltered population has increased by 41% in four years. Families experiencing homelessness often apply for the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), an assistance program that provides temporary cash assistance to children and families. Minnesota is one of three states that has not increased the maximum benefits of MFIP in 33 years. A family today would receive the same cash amount that a family in 1986 received. (A family of three would receive $532 per month).

There are at least 6,000 youth in Minnesota experiencing homelessness every night. Sometimes homelessness seems like an invisible issue. Many people experiencing homelessness are not necessarily living on the street; people live in cars, temporary housing, and float from loved one to loved one. While shelters remain one of the most comprehensive places to receive quality support, 63 out of the 87 counties in Minnesota do not have emergency shelters.

Homeless Day on the Hill gathered folks from these counties to advocate at the Capitol for better support for our homeless neighbors. Right now, our districts need more funding for emergency shelters and MFIP. With additional resources, Minnesota would be able to shorten shelter stays, enhance quality programming, and increase the number of families receiving support to work toward full housing and employment. We would be able to ensure housing needs and homes for all.

Every Sunday in worship we recite the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the ask, “Lord, may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” I imagine that in heaven, every person is fed and housed and thriving. It is our call here to fulfill God’s will, that it may be on earth as it is heaven; working to make sure all God’s children are fed and housed and thriving.

_______________

To learn more about the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless or future Homeless Day on the Hill events, go to www.mnhomelesscoalition.org.

Senta Leff, of Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, introduces Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.