Minnesota Housing Advocates Rally at Capitol for Legislators to ‘Start with Home’

Minnesota Housing Advocates Rally at Capitol for Legislators to ‘Start with Home’

mn state capital housing lobby

Image: Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP). Thousands gathered in St. Paul to advocate for affordable housing on February 20, 2024.

Press Release
Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP)

SAINT PAUL – Tuesday in the afternoon on February 20, the Capitol Rotunda was filled with a crowd of passionate residents and housing advocates calling on their legislators to prioritize long-term housing solutions. Co-hosts and leaders hailed from many organizations including Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, Bring it Home, MN, COPAL MN, Habitat for Humanity MN, Home Line, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD), Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP), Minnesota Public Health Association, and Our Future Starts at Home. Speakers were clear at the Start with Home Rally- the Minnesota Legislature must prioritize policies that accomplish the following:

  • Advance statewide affordable home ownership, especially for marginalized communities
  • Invest $500 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs)
  • Fully fund the Bring It Home, MN state rental assistance program
  • Fund services in supportive housing
  • Give undocumented immigrants housing rights
  • Enact family-friendly housing policies that allow us to build more homes of all types in all corners of the state.
  • Pass Source of Income Protections for renters
  • Pass the Minnesota Constitutional Amendment for Housing
Among the number of legislators that joined, Senate President Bobby Joe Champion helped kick off the rally by reassuring the crowd, “ We are united that our future starts at home. We have more to do. If you think about home ownership, that is important to me. We need to close that homeownership gap. Keep up the pressure on us, keep up the pressure on the governor. It is important to us that all Minnesotans live in dignity and in a home.”
housing rally MN in 2024
Left to right: Representative Amanda Hemmingsen-Jaeger, Representative Jamie Long

House Majority Leader Jamie Long added, “We passed a major legislation last year. But we also know how big the hole is, how big the challenge is… how many Minnesotans are having to choose between their homes and other expenses. Housing is the core issue with so many aspects of our lives.”

The crowd and rotunda was fired up, chanting, “Statewide investments start with home. Our future starts with home. Lawmakers must start with home!”

Community speakers came from all backgrounds with lived experiences. Cecil Scott, a founding member of Street Voices of Change, shared his experiences with homelessness and how he advocates for just, equitable, and inclusive housing so all Minnesotans can afford a home no matter what their background, income, or zip code is.
housing rally featured speaker mn capitol
Pictured: Cecil Scott, Street Voices of Change

“I have experienced homelessness several different times and each experience has been different. I’ve experienced several different barriers. One of those barriers is due to an old criminal background. Another reason is red taping. You also have to be homeless for a period of time. Why do I have to be homeless for a year in order to be able to get housing?” Scott shared that he found the rally a meaningful change but did not hide the reality of his housing experiences.
mn capitol speaker at housing rally 2024
Pictured: Dr. Habon Abdulle, Ayada Leads

Housing advocates from organizations representative of Minnesota spoke on how housing plays a big role in the well-being of Minnesotans. The Executive Director for Ayada Leads, Dr. Habon Abdulle stated, “We believe in the power of collective action, that is why we are all here today. Housing is an issue that impacts immigrants and the diaspora that is different from any other population. Housing is also a gender issue. Housing support can go a long way in helping women live more fulfilling lives.” She continued to urge the crowd to encourage their legislators to make housing a priority.
speaker mn capitol housing rally
Pictured: Representative Mike Howard

After hearing several stories and encouragement from advocates and constituents, Housing Finance and Policy Committee Chair Mike Howard joined the rally. “We are just getting started. We're not going to stop organizing. We know that Minnesotans are struggling to find a home they can afford to purchase. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. We will never solve our housing problems in Minnesota without long-term statewide investments.”

Rallygoers’ chant echoed throughout the Capitol Rotunda once again, “Inclusive communities start with home. Prosperous communities start with home. Our futures start at home. Lawmakers must start with home!” Speaker after speaker continued to share their work or experience with housing, and each story was different from the other.
Woodbury resident
Pictured: Ubah Shire, Woodbury resident

Ubah Shire is a mother of two and a renter in Woodbury. As an immigrant from Somalia and an advocate for Somali tenants, she shared how she herself has faced housing instability. “For nearly two months, I had to look for a place with a vacancy so that I could finish my education. I had to get two jobs so that I could afford rent,” said Shire.
housing rally mn 2024
Left to right: Ryan Perez, David Perdomo

“In my work as an organizer, I’ve encountered many stories of families living in conditions that are not safe,” said David Perdomo, a COPAL MN Lead Organizer in Rochester. Hearing about families with language barriers being taken advantage of was all too familiar to Perdomo. Determined to keep encouraging the crowd for housing solutions, Perdomo taught everyone how to chant in Spanish.
housing rally mn 2024
Left to right: Senator Scott Dibble, Representative Steve Elkins

To end the rally, Senator Scott Dibble acknowledged what everyone in the room believed in. “Let's be very clear here today. Housing is a human right and every single Minnesotan deserves to live a life of safety and security. Imagine being in MN where every child slept in their own house. Imagine with me, a Minnesota where someone who is ill isn’t also burdened with the stress of not having a place to come home to,” said Dibble. Senator Dibble shared the vision that no matter where you live, what you look like, what your age is or what your background is, everything begins with home.
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