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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Senator argues end of homelessness

<te Senator John Marty spoke about the reality of ending homelessness in Minnesota by 2020 last Monday night at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Acknowledging other politicians who believe eradicating homelessness will be impossible, the Senator told the audience that he is a “big believer that we’ll do it”. Civil rights and women’s suffrage, he said, were also “unrealistic” goals; therefore he aims to approach homelessness and poverty in the same “unrealistic” manner.

Poverty persists in the United States, because there is a lack of political will toward stopping it, said the Senator. However, the establishment of the Minnesota Legislative Commission on Ending Poverty, of which the Senator is a part, is a sign that the political dialogue is changing.

The Senator envisions a government that addresses its citizens’ needs “up front”. The United States should enforce living wage standards, provide universal health care, and help people build assets; then, said the Senator, people will no longer depend on subsidies for affordable housing or accumulate bills for expensive medical procedures because they could not afford the preventable care.

While the senator believes confronting the causes of poverty will save the United States money, he worries that the commission’s report will get media attention, and then get put on a shelf. Another fear, said the Senator, is that the half Democrat/half Republican commission will only agree to take small steps; steps that they are sure they can win without straining their resources, but ones that will be insufficient toward ending poverty.

The senator said that we have to think of who we are as a people. The United States, said the senator, is one of the richest nations in the world. Likewise, Minnesota is one of the wealthiest states in the nation. We have learned to accept the unacceptable, said the Senator. Before the 1980s, the homeless population consisted mostly of men and women suffering from chronic mental illness. Now the situation has escalated. Now, the structure of our society forces working people and children to the streets as well. The resources have been here for a hundred years, said the Senator, and now the political will is coming too.

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