LETTER: Homelessness and occupancy limits

To the Editor:

Rents are high and occupancy limits are low. Refugees often have big families, modest incomes, and limited English. Landlords should stop limiting the number of occupants in single-family apartments to help reduce homelessness particularly in the city of St. Paul, where refugee families makes up much of the population. 

Many refugee families are settling in St. Paul and not all of them can qualify for a home loan or afford to buy a home outright. Homelessness has been increasing steadily in Ramsey County and many of the homeless are refugees. In a 2015 Minnesota Homeless Study, the Wilder research team found in Ramsey County that there are 1,787 homeless adults, youth, and children. That is 19 percent of the total count for the state. 

It’s not easy looking for a house and it takes much time and even years to find a good affordable home. By letting refugee families remain in apartments without evicting them for violating an occupancy policy, landlords can do their part to reduce homelessness. Encouragement by the St. Paul City Council and residents of the community may cause individual landlords to rethink these policies. By the landlord letting a refugee family stay for a certain amount of years until they have more income coming in to afford a home, that will help reduce homelessness. Homelessness is not easy to erase, but we can reduce it by helping people to stay in their homes. 

Say Doh Moo, St. Paul

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