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Bill proposes creation of Office of Homelessness and Housing Supports

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

Homelessness in Minnesota is not new, but a possible new way to prevent and respond to it is.

Sponsored by Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL-Moorhead), HF5200, as amended, would establish the Office of Homelessness and Housing Supports to lead administration of the state’s homelessness services system.

An assistant commissioner would be hired to administer programs for transitional housing, long-term homelessness, and emergency services; the Homeless Youth Act; and numerous grant programs, including those for youth and mental illness. The assistant commissioner would hire employees for the new office.

House Human Services Finance Committee hearing on HF5200 4/11/24

The bill would appropriate $597,000 in fiscal year 2025 for a working group aimed at simplifying supportive housing resources.

The House Human Services Finance Committee laid the bill over Thursday for possible inclusion in larger legislation.

Keeler said the bill would ensure that funding for homelessness prevention and response doesn’t “slip through the cracks” as these duties shift soon to the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families. She is also concerned that not all homeless people would be served by a new department focused on specific demographics.

Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch) said the introduction of a bill later in the session to create a new office with an assistant commissioner and staff concerns her. Expenses related to office would grow across the years. “That would be a pretty big red flag for us,” she added.

“I can’t sit here and say I’m a champion for homelessness and not try and do everything, even if it’s at the last minute,” Keeler said. “I ask myself a lot how would the system right now support an individual man with no dependencies who is 70 years old in this state.”


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