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Letter: Now is the time to help families

I am a street outreach worker for people experiencing homelessness.

Last week, I met with our Washington County representatives at the Capitol and talked with them about the realities people without permanent housing face.

Every politician I met with told me either indirectly or straight out: If our constituents in Washington County care about people experiencing homelessness and truly want to see societal change, they need to contact us and ley us know.

Citizens of Washington County who truly believe that a better world is possible, I am encouraging you to use your powerful voices. Let's get loud to help protect the families in Minnesota that are currently unsheltered or are very close to having to live outside.

In our community, it is hard for us to even comprehend that:

• Almost 50 percent of the people experiencing homelessness are children.

• 70 percent of children living without a permanent address go to two to three different schools in one year. They are at high risk for falling behind in school and are less likely to acquire the skills they need to escape the cycle of poverty as adults.

• Shelters serving families are full. In this economy where unemployment and foreclosures are skyrocketing‚ you can only imagine how much more the need is increasing.

• In the 1970s there were hundreds of people without permanent shelter, now there are more than 9,000 in Minnesota.

• It's a much bigger drain on our wallets to keep allowing the issue of homelessness to continue than it is to offer housing.

You can say you don't care at all with your silence or you can be a powerful voice for people in need, especially children by contacting our representatives at the Capitol before the budget is finalized.

Find out who your representative is to contact http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/Districtfinder.asp

Homelessness info: http://www.mnhomelesscoalition.org/facts/homelessness/

Patty Pitera

Woodbury

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