Council members pledge support of proposed tiny home village in South Minneapolis

Council members pledge support of proposed tiny home village in South Minneapolis

Council members pledge support of proposed tiny home village in South Minneapolis

Minneapolis City Council Members voted on Monday in favor of an emergency motion to help address the spread of homeless encampments in South Minneapolis.

Following a motion from Budget Committee Chair Emily Koski (Ward 11) and council members Jason Chavez (Ward 9) and Jamal Osman (Ward 6), 12 present members voted to set aside $1 million to help fund a new tiny home shelter in South Minneapolis.

It would be the second village of 100 tiny homes created by local company Avivo. The first opened in a North Loop warehouse at the end of 2020.

There was a consensus that continuing to clear encampments hasn’t helped, only disrupting access to services that Chavez says the village has provided.

“It does provide, you know, support for people going through addiction, mental health, jobs, that bridge to housing, and that is what really helps people stay in a safe and permanent home after they leave the village,” he said. “But it’s not the only solution.”

According to Avivo’s website, the North Loop village has served 412 people and 35% of them have since moved into “safe, permanent housing.”

“That’s not going to cover everybody,” said Nicole Mason, a Little Earth resident and community organizer.

Mason was sitting inside a fenced encampment she’s been overseeing in the East Phillips neighborhood for roughly the last month. To set up a shelter at ‘Camp Nenookaasi,’ one has to play by the rules.

“To be here, no needles out in the open, no tinfoil is out on the ground, none of that,” she said, “It’s supposed to be disposed into biohazard bins. That’s to take care of Mother Earth.”

It’s not a permanent site, Mason acknowledged, especially as winter looms. She said she supports another Avivo Village, but said investment in more culturally relevant rehabilitation services would be needed to reach the reportedly 95% Indigenous population in the encampment.

“I was not able to stay sober until I had culture. That’s across the board, no matter what kind of spirituality you are, you need that in order to have success,” she shared.

The second village is not meant to be a standalone solution, Chavez said.

“You know, they have a big wish list,” he said, referring to the roughly 200 people who attended a related community town hall that the Ward 9 Council Member hosted last week. “And if we can expand it, it can help reduce that wish list, and it can get more people into safe and permanent housing. But we need to do a lot more too.”

It’s expected to take more than a million dollars to fully fund the South Minneapolis village. City Council’s pledge of $1 million is contingent on Avivo officially submitting and being selected for a $10 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Avivo has not confirmed its intention to apply as of this report. The deadline to apply is Thursday.

Ongoing funding, including for the existing North Loop village, may also be needed and require Hennepin County Board approval, according to Ward 7 Council Member Lisa Goodman.

“I do support this,” she said, “But I wish that we could follow a process either laid out by the budget or laid out by the competitive RFP process that we use in order to allocate funds.”