New Homeless Shelter on Hold in Anoka

Updated: 12/13/2013 6:13 AM
Created: 12/12/2013 8:19 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

Plans for a new homeless shelter in the city of Anoka are on hold for now. The city council is expected to finalize a moratorium on new shelters early next week.

The moratorium would affect a shelter application from Hope 4 Youth, a drop-in center for homeless children and young adults that opened less than a year ago. As of now, Hope 4 Youth closes at 7 p.m.

"Regularly we end up at the end of our hours sending youth back outside," said Brian Swanson, who founded Hope 4 Youth. That's why he wants to create a 10-bed shelter at the facility.

There are other shelters in Anoka, like Stepping Stone Emergency Housing, but space is limited, and some young homeless adults, like 21-year-old Kaylee -- who's 12-weeks pregnant -- just won't go.

"Last time I went to a shelter all my stuff was stolen from me," she said. Adding, "I've slept in parks on benches. I'm never alone. Usually I tell someone I'm going to be out here."

Anoka City Manager Tim Cruikshank says the city isn't necessarily against the Hope 4 Youth shelter, but they need more time to study the issue. Also, he says the city already supports programs for chemical dependency, victims of domestic violence, and kids who need a place to go after school.

"The city of Anoka can not be the only city in Anoka County that supports these types of services," he explained. "There needs to be a fair and equitable distribution."

Swanson understands that and says he doesn't see this as a battle with the city. He sees it as two groups working together to find the right solution.

"We're simply trying to find a solution for these kids so they've got somewhere warm to stay," he said, "and we're going to look for whatever the best solution is."

The Anoka City Council's final vote on this issue is scheduled for this coming Monday. The first reading to pass the moratorium was unanimously approved by the council.

The moratorium could last for up to 12 months.


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