At the age of 11, Kris Jackson experienced homelessness for the first, but far from the last, time.
“The horrible things I had to do to survive. Most could never imagine,” she told a House committee Thursday.
From running drugs for local dealers to being forced into prostitution, Jackson did what she could to have a place to sleep.
“Shelter is more than four walls and a roof,” she said. “Stability is needed so badly by children and adults alike.”
Sponsored by Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL-Moorhead), HF444 intends to help eliminate stories like Jackson’s by modifying grant awards for the Homeless Youth Act and appropriating money for numerous homeless services programs.
The House Human Services Finance Committee approved the bill, as amended, Thursday and referred it to the House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee.
Dubbed the “Pathway Home Act,” the bill would allocate $150 million from the General Fund in fiscal year 2024 for emergency shelter facilities.
It would also appropriate $77.25 million in the 2024-25 biennium from the General Fund to the Department of Human Services for various homeless services:
Awarded on a competitive basis, emergency services grants provide homeless people with essential services while providing emergency shelter, motel vouchers and day shelter.
The Homeless Youth Act grants serve people under age 25 by providing services when their parent or guardian is unable or unwilling to give shelter and care. They are also eligible if they lack consistent and adequate nighttime residence.
Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch) appreciates the bill’s goal but worries about future budget challenges that may force funding cuts to some of the same programs people are counting on.