Where do the candidates stand on homelessness?by Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Homeless people are wondering how their lives might change after Minnesota elects a new governor.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty launched an ambitious plan to end long-term homeless by 2010, but many people who have been homeless for years are still living on the streets.
None of the gubernatorial candidates have provided a similarly detailed plan to end homelessness, but they have given some indication as to how they would address the issue.
Republican candidate Tom Emmer:
Emmer said that homelessness can only be ended by what he calls "groups with a human dimension." He said, via e-mail, "This means we must look beyond bureaucratic programs to support groups and initiatives outside of government."
Emmer has not committed to providing additional funding for homelessness services and has not said whether he would restore Pawlenty's cuts to group housing programs and other services.
"As a governor, I would love to eliminate homelessness, but ... government has not found a solution to doing so," he said via e-mail.
Emmer said he would look to other states for guidance. "If you can find a place that has solved the homeless problem, I'll go there and copy it."
DFL candidate Mark Dayton
Dayton said he would reverse Pawlenty's funding cuts to group residential housing, county mental health services, the renters' credit, and chemical dependency services.
He said he does not have a plan to eliminate long-term homelessness. "I defer to the experts, some of them at St. Stephen's and elsewhere and I think they know what's most effective," he said.
Dayton said that St. Stephen's Human Services, a Minneapolis social services agency, and other groups need more government support, but Dayton has not committed to providing a specific amount of new funding to combat homelessness.
Independence Party candidate Tom Horner
Horner is the only candidate who has committed to a specific amount of new funding to reduce homelessness. His budget sets aside $25 million to address the issue and additional money for mental health programs and other support services. He said that more government intervention is needed to help families hit hard by the economic downturn and veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life.
He said Pawlenty has "done a pretty good job of making funds available for the bricks and mortar kind of solutions for shelters and those things." However, he said that Democrats and Republicans have failed to provide enough funding to address the root causes of homelessness, including lack of job training programs and inadequate medical care.