SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, three Minnesota House committees heard testimony about how critical safe and stable housing is for children of all ages. The Early Childhood Finance & Policy Committee, the Housing Finance & Policy Committee, and the Preventing Homelessness Division heard HF 3210, legislation authored by Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL - St. Paul) that would expand eligibility for the Homework Starts with Home program to children under the age of five and their families.
“All children deserve to get a great start, and that’s not possible unless they have a safe and stable place to live,” said Rep. Pinto, chair of the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “Expanding the Homework Starts with Home program to families with young children will help provide our youngest Minnesotans with the foundation they need to succeed in school and later in life. It’s a simple step we can take to make sure all children have a place to grow and develop during those critical early years of life.”
Almost half of the people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota are children or young adults. Children who experience homelessness or housing instability are more likely to face barriers to academic success, such as chronic absenteeism, changing schools, and learning difficulties. Since homelessness disproportionately impacts students of color and LGBTQ students, these additional barriers can exacerbate existing disparities and widen the opportunity gap.
“Our children cannot learn if they don’t have a secure and safe place to live,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL - Falcon Heights), chair of the Housing Finance and Policy Committee. “By expanding the Homework Starts with Home program, all families can attain a safe place to live, thereby ensuring children have a stable environment to learn and thrive.”
The Homework Starts with Home program helps ensure school-aged children have access to stable housing. It provides rental assistance to families with children who are eligible to enroll in pre-kindergarten-grade 12 and facilitates cooperation between schools, housing providers, and service providers. HF 3210 would expand eligibility for the program to children ages 0-5 and their families.
“Housing instability has a major impact on young children and their ability to learn, which can lead to long-term cycles of delayed development. We know that early childhood development is incredibly important, so we must expand this valuable safety net to all children,” said Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL - Minneapolis), the chair of the Preventing Homelessness Division. “We have the resources to ensure every child has a stable home, and it is our duty to make sure that is a reality.”
Video of today’s hearing is available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel. Documents from the hearing can be found on the committees’ webpages.