Advocates want $8M boost for housing, services aimed at homeless youth

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A coalition of community and faith-based groups is asking the state Legislature to help fight youth homelessness. A proposal would provide $8 million to help homeless youth across Minnesota.

The bill passed the Early Childhood and Youth Development Policy Committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Tuesday. It now heads to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

Wilder Research estimates that 2,500 young people are homeless in Minnesota on any given night. Advocates for those young people want the Legislature to provide $8 million per biennium. The money would be used for supportive housing, outreach, counselors, and prevention work.

Tim Marx is the CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He said it is important to intervene while people are still young.

"If we don't get them on track then, their life trajectory and life chances many times become very unfortunate," Marx said. "They're on the streets, they run into predators. They often end up in emergency systems, jails. And they don't become workers and productive citizens of the community. This is many times a last chance to intervene and turn that trajectory in a positive way."

The bill's author, state Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, agreed.

"They might be fleeing a situation at home that's dangerous. They might be experiencing crisis in their lives," Halverson said. "And they're needing stable, long-term solutions to help them live a prosperous life."