Housing that is Affordable and Safe
Housing is a basic a human right. Communities all around Minnesota are impacted by the affordable housing crisis. The housing crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color, Indigenous communities, unaccompanied youth, and our LGBTQ community members. Too many people are forced to compromise their safety in order to maintain affordable housing. I will fight for a comprehensive approach to address the issue of inadequate housing and to establish a legal framework for the “right to live somewhere in security, peace, and dignity” at a reasonable cost. See International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 4 (1991). I support the Homes for All Coalition’s effort to advance policy initiatives that will lead to housing stability for all Minnesotans. Individuals and families of underrepresented communities also deserve equal access to homeownership opportunities.
Minnesota’s housing laws and policies should prioritize families who come in contact with the child protection system. Through my work in the child welfare field, I have seen children removed from the home solely for housing-related safety issues. Parents and caregivers involved in the child protection system are given a case plan that requires them to maintain safe and stable housing, but these families often face multiple barriers in obtaining safe and affordable housing because of criminal records, unlawful detainers, and inadequate rental history.
We should also modify Minnesota’s nondiscrimination and fair housing laws to allow agencies and nonprofits to provide transitional and permanent housing to specific subpopulations in need of specialized or culturally competent supportive services.
Social Justice and Quality Education for All
Every child and individual in Minnesota deserves access to a quality education. I recognize that educational achievement is interconnected with social and economic justice. I will fight for access to quality education and amenities and access to equitable housing, transit, healthcare and recreation opportunities.
Through my work with children and families and from my own educational journey, I have seen firsthand the inequities that exist in early childhood, K-12 and higher education for many students. Students of color should not be disproportionately disciplined with out of school suspension and placed on Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Students must have teachers who look like them and school curriculum that includes accurate historical representations of communities of color and Indigenous peoples. I will also support increased funding for Indigenous language revitalization programs.
Criminal Justice Reform
Nearly half of Minnesota’s prison population is made of people of color, including Native Americans, the unemployment rate for African Americans is almost triple the white unemployment rate, and far too many Minnesotans are denied the right to vote because people with felony convictions are stripped of their right to vote while on probation. I will fight to remove barriers to employment and participation in our democracy for individuals and families impacted by the criminal justice system.
Under our criminal justice system, it’s far too easy for low level charges to turn someone’s life upside down–fines, missed court dates and warrants lead to incarceration, loss of employment and financial hardship creating a vicious cycle of poverty for many. My father and mother were incarcerated throughout most of my life. I watched as they both struggled to reintegrate into their communities. I felt their pain and frustration in trying to access housing, secure employment and obtain health insurance. I will fight to break down barriers to re-entry for Minnesota citizens returning from incarceration.
Everyone deserves clean air, clean water, healthy food, safe parks and natural spaces in their communities, regardless of income, race or ethnicity. Low income communities, communities of color, and indigenous communities are more likely to be exposed to pollution, toxins, and other environmental risks. Climate change is a fundamental threat and we must act now and be bold in our advocacy. I will advocate for policies that increase, the supply of renewable energy, create clean energy jobs and address climate change through energy conservation and clean energy choices.
“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.”
–Desmond Tutu, Archbishop emeritus.
Improving Laws Protecting Women and Girls from Violence
Too many women and girls experience violence in our state and around the country. In Minnesota, 80% of female homicide victims (2005-2015) were attributed to domestic violence See Femicide Report, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (2106). I will advocate and fight for to improve laws that prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, including our trans sisters. Adequate resources must be allocated to ensure that our laws hold perpetrators accountable and support survivors.
I will support legislation to improve our response to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault among women of color, especially Native American and Indigenous women (84% of American Indian or Alaska Native have experienced violence in their lifetime, NIJ Journal No. 288 (June 17, 2016)). My cousin Rebecca was murdered in 2015 in South Minneapolis. Her killer has never been caught, leaving our family without justice. Our family’s story is one of many thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women nationwide.
Sex trafficking of women and young girls continues to rise at alarming rates, in rural and urban areas. I will support funding to fully implement Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Law, passed in 2011, to ensure that communities across Minnesota have the resources to effectively identify sexually exploited and at-risk youth. We also need to develop a comprehensive and multi-state agency approach to providing trauma-informed services to women aged 24 years or older who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.
I strongly believe that we can balance criminal justice reform with the objective of public safety. I will focus on legislative ways to prevent violence in our communities through giving residents more access to living wage jobs, educational opportunities, housing options and quality healthcare. We can also reduce juvenile delinquency through early intervention and youth development programs, and by fully funding the Homeless Youth Act to ensure that all homeless youth have access to appropriate transitional and permanent housing.
The opioid crisis touches many families and communities in Minnesota and is a serious public health issue, so solving this problem must be a top priority. I will advocate and fight for increased funding for harm reduction programs, improved access to culturally sensitive treatment and recovery services, including short-term and long-term treatment programs, research on pain and addiction and better practices for pain management.