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Minnesota nonprofits band together on housing, childcare, nutrition efforts

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Minnesota nonprofits band together on housing, childcare, nutrition efforts

Feb 07, 2024 | 2:56 pm ET
By Madison McVan
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Minnesota nonprofits band together on housing, childcare, nutrition efforts
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Gov. Tim Walz spoke to hunger advocates and organizers at Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park on Jan. 29, 2024. Second Harvest Heartland is one of the nonprofits advocating for anti-poverty legislation through the "Nourish MN" coalition. Photo by Michelle Griffith/Minnesota Reformer.

A coalition of influential Minnesota nonprofits have coalesced around anti-poverty policy priorities, including child care subsidies, housing access, increasing food assistance benefits for seniors and more.

ISAIAH, Minnesota Housing Partnership, Move Minnesota Action, Second Harvest Heartland and CAPI — a nonprofit serving immigrants and refugees — announced Wednesday they are forming a coalition called “Nourish MN” to advocate for anti-poverty legislation during the 2024 legislative session.

The state’s fiscal picture is cloudier than last year, when lawmakers used a big surplus to craft a two-year state budget with a number of anti-poverty initiatives, including a significant child tax credit. The latest budget forecast shows a potential deficit in future years unless lawmakers change course, so it’s unclear if the coalition will achieve their objectives this session absent new revenue. 

The coalition supports policies including income-based child care subsidies; deregulating zoning rules to allow more building; banning landlords from discriminating against people receiving public assistance; expanding free fare pilots for public transit; increasing Minnesota’s minimum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for seniors; and using federal Medicaid funds for nutrition and housing programs.

“As a food bank, our core mission is to source and distribute the food necessary to ensure no one goes hungry today,” said Zach Rodvold, director of public affairs for Second Harvest Heartland, in a press release. “To end hunger, however, we need policies that will help prevent hunger by making life more affordable for more Minnesotans.”

Some DFL lawmakers have already announced plans to work on some of the coalition’s policy priorities. 

Rep. Michael Howard, DFL-Richfield, said legalizing more housing choices — limiting local governments’ authority to impose restrictive zoning rules — is a top priority in the 2024 legislative session.

A group of DFL lawmakers announced in November they will bring forward a plan to subsidize child care on a sliding scale for families making up to 150% of the state’s median income.

The office of Gov. Tim Walz is advocating for legislation that would bar landlords from discriminating against renters who use public assistance, like federal section 8 vouchers, and from advertising rental units as “no Section 8.”