Finding a place to live in the Twin Cities can be next to impossible for low-income people. But former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer and others who think affordable housing should be considered a right, not a privilege, will lead a public forum later this month to identify new or improved ways to reduce homelessness.
"People of Good Will and the Challenge of Affordable Housing” will attract community leaders from many walks of life who are eager to address an issue at the heart of virtually all discussions of Twin Cities urban development. The event will be held at the College of St. Catherine on March 30 and 31. Co-sponsors of this fourth annual Dialogue of Faith and Culture are St. Catherine, the University of St. Thomas and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
All events are free and open to the public. Reservations are required, however, and can be made by calling (651) 690-8899 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The symposium opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30, with the play, “Like Waters Rolling Down,” in Jeanne d’Arc Auditorium in Whitby Hall. Presented by Minneapolis-based Illusion Theater, the play will explore issues of affordable housing and will be followed by a discussion.
The Friday morning session will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, March 31, in the Marian Lounges in St. Joseph Hall. It will feature Latimer, now professor of urban studies at Macalester College, social ethicist William O’Neill, S.J., and theologian Rosemary Haughton.
Latimer will lead the day’s discussion and in his opening remarks will frame the affordable-housing issue from ethical and economic perspectives, including a review of what’s happening in Minnesota. Haughton will discuss the challenge of affordable housing from biblical and theological perspectives, and O’Neil will examine the topic from a social ethicist’s point of view.
Following a 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. lunch, Latimer will lead a town meeting and fishbowl discussion. Participants, in addition to Haughton and O’Neill, will be Joe Errigo, president of Common Bond Communities; Kit Hadley, commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; Steve Seidel, president of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity; Kathy Tomlin, public policy coordinator for Catholic Charities; State. Rep. Dan McElroy, R-Burnsville, a former mayor of Burnsville; Peter Bell, Hazelden Foundation’s vice president for corporate new ventures; Joy Sorensen Navarre, executive director of the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing; and Deanna Foster, executive director of Hope Community Inc., of Minneapolis.
"Some people may wonder why St. Thomas, St. Kates and the archdiocese are interested in what is often viewed merely as a political issue," said St. Catherine President Andrea Lee, IHM. "But we view decent, affordable housing through the lens of the principles of Catholic social justice. It transcends politics, and goes to basic rights and human dignity."
The symposium will conclude at 3:15 p.m. with a closing ritual and commitment to action.