Want to help end homelessness in Minnesota? We can do it if we make enough noise.

On Monday, March 20, at 8:45 a.m. we will be boarding a bus at Shepherd of the Hill Church to bring 40-plus people from Chaska, Chanhassen, Waconia and Jordan to participate in the effort to pass a $2 billion housing bill. In the same way that Minnesota was the first in the nation to ban indoor smoking and require handicapped access, we can be the first to solve the affordable housing crisis in the U.S.

The bill is called “Bring It Home Minnesota.” It is legislation designating $1.7 billion that addresses housing issues as if housing was infrastructure. In other words, a required piece of construction that makes stable workforce housing possible. Working people like police, teachers and people who work at Target cannot find a place to live, because we won’t build it for them. This is the year we can change that because the state has a $17 billion surplus.

Think of it this way: If you are paying more than 30% of your income in rent, you are going to have a hard time buying food, medicine or gas. Rent vouchers can make it possible to pay rent and not go broke; you might even go homeless if you come up short.

Our church, Shepherd of the Hill, has been working with families who are experiencing homelessness for a dozen years. They have jobs, but they have often been living in their cars.

We need to make housing more affordable with vouchers — rent subsidies can work — and make housing available for all Minnesotans. Right now, it takes seven years to get on the waiting list for Section 8 housing, which means maybe another seven years to actually find a place.

If people end up homeless, then the problems start to mount. If housing problems are solved, everything else is solvable. Rent vouchers are a simple, proven policy that can end housing instability. Housing has to come first.

Sometimes, all people need is a damage deposit. Carver County figured out that if they subsidize someone for a $1,200 damage deposit, it can save them $14,000 in county expenses. Homelessness is more expensive than solving homelessness.

For details from Beacon, try their website at www.beaconinterfaith.org and learn how you can be a part of the solution.

The bus ride will have hot chocolate and we ask for a $10 donation, which covers gas, the bus, parking and the driver. No one will be turned away if you are short of cash. Shepherd of the Hill is located at the intersection of highways 10 and 41 at 145 Engler Blvd. Free parking all day — kind of a park-and ride.

Please make reservations at shepherdpresbyterian@centurylink.net or call the church at 952-448-3882. Our website is chaskachurch.com. Be there! Aloha!

The Rev. Dean J. Seal

Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church