Board Member Spotlight: Amy Stetzel
Tell us about your background and why you care about expanding housing opportunities.
I care about expanding housing opportunities because I know first-hand the power of housing stability, in my family and in so many others.
I’m the daughter of a Vietnam vet who suffered from PTSD and all of the negative outcomes that relate. My mother, a registered nurse, took over the responsibility of raising our family and keeping a roof over our heads. Housing insecurity was always present. If it wouldn’t have been for our grandparents and sometimes a well-timed anonymous envelope of money in our mailbox from friends, we too would have lost our housing.
My mom, like so many caregivers, did what she could to shield us from the stressful financial reality she was in, and it has really been only more recently that I’ve come to understand the full picture of how unstable we were. My mom recently told me that there were a handful of times when she told my siblings and I that we were going to “take the night off “from one of our activities (sports, church, music) when the reality was, mom didn’t have enough gas in the car to get us to our activities and herself to work the next day, and didn’t have enough money in the bank to get more gas.
I’ve heard similar versions of this story from so many of the families I’ve worked with over the years. So many families in the state are in this same situation, and many are living off of even less work income and without the supports that kept my family afloat. My siblings and I benefited so much from having a stable home. And my mom would have benefited so much from knowing she didn’t have to worry and wonder so hard if her next paycheck was going to be enough to keep us safe.
Why were you interested in serving on the Family Housing Fund board?
The work of the Family Housing Fund is so critically important, and FHFund is an organization that is a leader, not only in all the cutting edge conversations happening across the state to expand access to housing for all Minnesotans, but also in the boots-on-the-ground work necessary to effectuate change. The most important and impactful work happens when policy is impacted by the voices of people with lived experiences; and when those experiences are translated into specific actions at the most core level. The Family Housing Fund does both of these things, and so when Commissioner Jennifer Ho asked me if I’d be willing to serve on the FHFund Board as a MN Housing representative, I jumped at the chance.
What housing aspirations do you have for the region?
Minnesota has the smarts and the talent to not only aspire to provide all citizens with access to affordable, safe and decent housing, but also the elbow grease and willpower to make it happen. Minnesotans can do hard things. And that hard work will pay off in the cascading positive dividends it will bring to our society health, our budgets, our education, and our workforce for generations to come.
What is one area where you think people generally fail to think big enough – and what is your vision for change?
I think the homelessness and housing sectors could think a lot bigger about who their key partners are. Working in silos is an easy trap to fall into, but not thinking strategically about how our public housing authorities, business partners, workforce agencies, child welfare systems, courts, etc could work better together – or work together in the first place – is something I often see happening. Work moves at the speed of the relationships you build, and so building healthy and strong relationships is key as is thinking creatively about who to bring into the work. As my friends at Hennepin County say, “housing is everyone’s business,” so we also need to act that way in our partnerships.
What do you do for fun?
My husband and I just had a baby boy in September, so we are enjoying all the time we get to spend with him and his 14 year old brother. There are some silver linings to COVID. But, I cannot wait to go to a concert or a sporting event again. And to have a coffee in person with all of you!