While Minneapolis has been struggling with the best way to handle the homeless camp on Hiawatha Avenue, the move to the navigation center may not be the best plan (“A beautiful day’ for breaking camp,” Dec. 12). Although Mayor Jacob Frey agreed with the Native American community, “saying they deserve better,” how much “better” are things getting? The move to the navigation center is yet another temporary solution that perpetuates a cycle of unstable housing for camp residents. The National Alliance to End Homelessness states that one of the most effective methods for ending homelessness is the housing-first approach. This streamlines the movement of homeless people into stable housing with few barriers, ensuring greater retention in housing and increased future stability. While the city has limited the barriers to entering the navigation center, many of the camp residents would be better served by being placed immediately into stable housing. Although the city may currently lack the resources to accomplish that, this homeless camp should be taken as a sign that the city needs to increase its infrastructure and resources for dealing with the homeless. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Minnesota has seen a 4 percent increase in its homeless population over the last year. While I applaud the city’s current efforts, it is clear more must be done in the future to help the growing homeless population and avoid increasing potential homeless camps.
Aviva Meyerhoff, St. Peter, Minn.
• • •
Our city has bent over backward to accommodate the needs of the Franklin Avenue homeless community, so it was disheartening to read, at the end of “A plea for unity before camp disbands” (Dec. 10), a tribal representative’s question: “When has anyone done anything for the homeless?” This insult disregards the endless work of foundations, communities and volunteers nationwide that devote financial aid, food, shelter accommodations, medical and dental care, transportation, jobs and access to affordable housing to minimize homelessness throughout our nation.
Further, it is unfortunate that some of the homeless feel that humanitarian aid workers harass and intimidate them, promote discord, alter their destiny and will deny their use of illegal drugs in their new homes. These workers have actually saved a number of lives from drug overdoses and tent fires and have provided needed security, blankets, food and drink for many months. My aunt, Sister Rose, ran the Free Store, and then the Peace House, both on Franklin Avenue, offering meals and community for many years helping the homeless (Peace House still operates, but now on 18th and Portland Avenue).
The “Sharing and Caring Hands” newsletter and many others are always so encouraging with all the positive stories and quotes from thousands of grateful individuals given a chance to recover and move on to better lives. If only the Franklin Avenue community could acknowledge the same.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
MINNESOTACARE BUY-IN DEBATE
Insurers, experts are data points. Real people are a critical mass.
The MinnesotaCare buy-in shouldn’t be a debate between insurance companies and legislators (“A start, not the end, to ‘buy-in’ debate,” editorial, Dec. 9). It should be a conversation about how can we ensure that all Minnesotans have the care they need in order to live full, healthy lives.
I’m sitting here in my apartment, recovering from surgery. I am doing remarkably well, because I have great insurance. I receive Medicaid, and so this lifesaving surgery was free to me. Before this surgery, performing everyday activities made me feel exhausted and ill. Now I’m getting my life back.
Earlier this year, I had some cancerous tissue removed from my body. I feel very lucky to live here in Minnesota, which bought into Medicaid expansion. I am able to live a healthy albeit difficult life because of the help I get from the government.
I also suffer from anxiety and depression that have made being fully employed very difficult for my adult life. I now receive Social Security Disability Insurance since being let go from my last job in 2013. I fought to stay employed. Then I fought to qualify for SSDI. And I feel so grateful to get such quality health care. Each and every one of us deserves the same care that I get.
I’m proud to live in Minnesota because we are a state that takes cares of each other. MinnesotaCare buy-in fits into our larger health care system. Our elected officials need to listen first and foremost to Minnesotans who rely on public health care, and continue being a state that puts people first.
Rachel Zemmer, St. Paul
• • •
It’s not a coincidence that the MinnesotaCare buy-in — which has 70 percent support of Minnesotans — is challenged primarily by large HMOs. Private health insurance companies are not acting in the best interest of Minnesotans — only their bottom line. Their lobbying pitch before the Legislature, disguised as a “presentation,” was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Minnesotans weren’t fooled.
Cierra Brown, St. Paul
• • •
I’ve encountered many roadblocks in my son’s struggle with a specific issue, related to mental health, that insurance companies don’t want to cover. Watching your child suffer is bad enough without having to wonder how you’re going to afford to get him the treatment that he needs. No one should have to decide between needed medication and putting food on the table.
The details needed about the MinnesotaCare buy-in won’t be found in presentations by private insurance companies only concerned about their bottom line, or by “experts” without lived experiences navigating these systems. Our elected officials need to start focusing on listening to and providing Minnesotans the care they need and deserve.
Amanda Kegley, South St. Paul
MINNESOTA’S GAS TAX
Indeed, know the differences in regional cultures and needs
Very thoughtful commentary by Jim Lenfestey on the gas tax (“Minnesota needs one, but must consider rural areas,” Dec. 11). Having been invited to plenty of kaffeeklatsches with retirees by my Montgomery friend; plenty of time spent on the Iron Range; serving as a locum tenens doctor throughout southern Minnesota, and married into the Owatonna and Faribault culture, I came to understand the beautiful differences and challenges of rural Minnesota. We must give credence to realistic rural energy equality.
Dr. Peter J. Dorsen, Eagan
How does this involve our budget? Someone’s, it’s been said; not ours
I found the statement “Border wall prompts tense standoff with Dem leaders” (front page, Dec. 12) confusing. During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly said Mexico would pay for the wall, and he has never lied before.
Thomas Edwards, Forest Lake
• • •
The media are failing in their responsibility to U.S. taxpayers if they let the president ignore his promise that Mexico must pay for his wall. If it was a stupid thing for him to say, then let him say he is sorry he was so stupid.
Harold Bagley, Edina