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Homelessness is not just a public health crisis, though as a doctor, that’s how I know it best. It’s a mental health crisis – our state’s underfunded mental health resources and addiction services are inadequate for this crisis. It’s a public education crisis – our state has thousands of unsheltered children in public education who are more likely to need special attention and services. And it’s also a public safety crisis – many members of our community feel unsafe.

We need to consider housing a basic right, not just a commodity. That means accelerating development of quality, affordable, family-friendly housing options throughout our region and state. We cannot rely on the markets alone to create this – we must put policies and tax dollars to work to fight for affordable housing.  We need more density, but not high end units concentrated near light rail that pushes lower income families further away from the transportation and shops that they need. We need more middle income housing for young people– providing an entry point into the housing market– and we must make sure that we assist seniors on a fixed income and low income households to prevent displacement and housing instability.

We need programs to keep families from losing their homes in the first place – like first and last month rent and security deposit assistance for renters. Often it is a temporary issue – just starting a new job, waiting for health insurance coverage to kick in, an illness for someone without adequate paid sick leave and high medical bills –  that pushes a family over the edge and into homelessness. I will push for additional resources into the Housing Trust Fund to build more affordable housing and investments into services that prevent homelessness and help neighbors living unsheltered get back on their feet with a “housing first” model and wrap around services that set people up to succeed.