Health and Housing Concerns Loom Over Duluth, Minnesota

Last modified: March 5, 2020

US Senator Tina Smith paid a visit to two facilities in Duluth — the American Indian Community Housing Organization and the Fond du Lac Center for American Indian Resources. The senator headed to these places to find solutions to housing and health problems within Minnesota.

According to Smith, she saw models in the above-mentioned facilities that can be adapted to fix the broken systems for housing and healthcare both locally and nationwide. However, she said that replicating these models wouldn’t be possible without proper regulatory action and financial support. 

In a roundtable discussion at CAIR, Smith talked about the numerous innovations happening at a local level and how the outdated regulations get in the way. The Minnesota senator was also vocal about the struggles faced by the current housing system. She emphasized, in particular, that the state won’t be able to meet the housing demand if homeownership costs continue to rise. Moreover, the disparities in wealth and income are widening as people of color and persons with disabilities struggle to find housing due to discrimination. 

Smith showed strong disagreement with Trump’s recent budget proposal, which aims to reduce funds for the renovation and construction of affordable homes. She believes that federal housing programs should stay as it would pave the way for a better quality of life and job growth. 

As for healthcare challenges, rural facilities are in desperate need of support from the government. According to Paula Termuhlen, the dean of a medical school in Duluth, there’s no OB and surgical care available between the city and the Canadian border. Medical facilities are facing difficulties in hiring workers, leading to extremely limited health services. Smith added that the system doesn’t require just a “simple fix.” Instead, the government must work on encouraging people to go to medical schools and fulfill a purposeful career in the healthcare industry.

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