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Sen. Tina Smith shares findings from statewide housing study

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DULUTH, MN -- A new study shows the wide-ranging impacts of the housing shortage, not just in Duluth, but across the state.

Senator Tina Smith and her team completed a housing study and released some of those findings Monday, alongside Mayor Emily Larson.

"Without a safe place to call home, nothing else in your life works."

That's the message Senator Tina Smith is trying to spread across the state of Minnesota.

Smith and her team attended 21 listening sessions around the state, learning about existing housing challenges and how it holds people back.

"Really every part of the continuum of housing in Minnesota is struggling and is broken in some way, starting with the challenges of moving people out of homelessness, and into supportive housing.", Smith stated.

In Duluth, the American Indian Community housing organization provides transitional shelter for the indigenous community.

Mayor Larson says she's grateful for AICHO's hard work on behalf of the city.

"AICHO is amazing, and one of the things I have so appreciated about this organization, is that it balances both a very specific, culturally forward for people.", Larson said.

The city of Duluth started a housing work force last year. The group plans to use the data Senator Smith found and come up with recommendations.

"We are also looking at creative land use opportunities, the rebuild Duluth program is something we'll be talking about in the next few weeks.", stated Larson.

Smith says federal cuts are making the battle against homelessness harder.

"Federal strategies like community development block grants, shop programs which help to renovate affordable housing…the President's budget eliminated these programs."

Smith and Larson hope teaming up local and state resources will make a difference.

"Communities can do a lot on their own, its better when we do things together.", said Larson.

Last year, the city of Duluth hired a housing developer for the very first time.

The goal is to increase available, affordable housing stock. Further recommendations from the Duluth housing force will be released in March.

Kaitlyn Moffett

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