On March 18, 1997, Trisha Kauffman became the second Executive Director of East Metro Women’s Council, now Solid Ground.
In honor of her 26th Anniversary, we sat down with Trisha to learn more about her work and dedication to advancing Solid Ground’s mission to prevent and end homelessness for families with children in the communities we serve through housing, resources, and opportunity.
How did you learn about Solid Ground and what attracted you to the position?
My husband got a new job in Minneapolis and the two of us moved here from Ohio in December 1996. I had been working for a domestic violence services organization and was looking for a job I loved as much as that one. Luckily I found Solid Ground! (then called East Metro Women’s Council).
Many of the families we helped at the shelter were forced to return to unsafe situations because they didn’t have many housing options, and I was thrilled to be a part of the solution at Solid Ground. I also loved that we work more holistically with families and for a longer period of time.
As you look toward the future, what gives you the most hope?
We have a historic opportunity to address the eviction crisis and affordable housing shortage in Minnesota. The budget surplus allows us to devote the resources needed to move forward in bringing housing justice to communities of color, extremely low wealth households, and other underserved populations who have been left behind in our economy.
Solid Ground is pursuing several funding opportunities at the local, state, and federal level to bring additional services and rental assistance to families in Ramsey and Washington Counties. Much of these opportunities are focused on preventing homelessness while also addressing the needs of those who are already unhoused. Prevention is much more cost-effective and certainly more humane, avoiding not just the physical experience of homelessness but also the insecurity and emotional trauma of not having a safe place of one’s own.
What’s the greatest challenge for families experiencing homelessness? How is Solid Ground part of the solution?
The severe lack of affordable housing is definitely the greatest challenge faced by families, and the housing supply won’t change overnight. Decent, safe, affordable housing is a basic need for all, and addressing the housing shortage will take years of intentional, systemic change.
Solid Ground is a part of the solution by advocating for affordable housing development, brokering relationships with landlords who might otherwise deny families, and providing rental assistance to help make the housing affordable until families can afford it on their own. We’re also part of the solution by working to preserve existing affordable housing and partnering with developers to bring new units to the market.
I’m particularly excited by a new partnership with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative to develop Gladstone Crossing in Maplewood by 2025. Gladstone Crossing will provide about 40 new units of permanent supportive housing to young parents (ages 18-25) and their children. By addressing homelessness early in a child’s life, we can have a lasting impact on their physical, social, and emotional development, their learning, and their sense of safety in the world. I can’t think of anything more important than that!
At Solid Ground we create opportunities for housing stability, increased economic stability, educational advancement, and improved health and wellness. Committed to the ‘Housing First’ philosophy, Solid Ground moves people out of homelessness and into housing first, then provides person-centered, holistic support and services essential for long-term stability.