Minneapolis tiny home shelter operations offer ‘proof for expansion’ as state officials mull 2nd location

Avivo considers building second tiny home village

Avivo considers building second tiny home village

Minneapolis-based Avivo confirmed on Tuesday it applied for a $10 million state grant to help build a second Avivo Village tiny home shelter in the city following a pledge of support from City Council members last month.

As government officials mull over that decision, Program Director David Jeffries led 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on a tour of the existing facility in a former North Loop warehouse, which he said has been consistently at capacity since the doors opened at the end of 2020.

The Avivo Village is considered a transitional shelter, Jeffries said.

“It’s 24/7, so we never shut down. We have staff that are here around the clock,” he added. “We can connect people to mental health services, chemical health services — if they want to be sober, family reunification, therapy, counseling, you name it, medical services.”

With the assistance of several partnerships with other local organizations, the shelter also provides three meals a day and housing support services.

In a separate interview, former resident Roy Frye-Harding III credited Avivo Village for filling in the “missing puzzle pieces” that — coupled with a series of unfortunate events — kept him couch surfing and on the streets for more than a decade.

“Like, the last time I was actually on a lease by myself or with, like, roommates was probably 2010,” he said from his leased apartment of a year in the Stevens Square neighborhood.

Things turned around for him last summer, Frye-Harding III said. After spending a few months in an Avivo tiny home, he worked with housing support services to find his new home, which opened up space again in his life for his love of music and rapping.

Frye-Harding III was one of 146 people as of this report who have gone from the Avivo Village into permanent housing in the last three years, and according to the company’s statistics, more than 250 people left without permanent shelter on the horizon.

Barring a discharge to another shelter — generally due to behavior or violence — leaving is voluntary, Jeffries explained, and they’re not currently tracking the next steps of all former residents, particularly those that move further away or separate from ongoing support services.

“So there’s not like, ‘Hey, get out, go back to the streets.’ That’s not it. What we struggle with in this community is not having enough safe, dignified shelter space for everyone,” Jeffries said.

“Most people don’t return here,” he continued.

Jeffries wasn’t able to provide a statistic for how many people have come back to the Village, but estimated it to be less than 20.

“I can tell you that the people that do stick with the program and take it serious, they make it somewhere,” Frye-Harding III added in support of expanding the tiny home shelter to a second, South Minneapolis location.

The timeline for when a decision will be made on whether to build it is unclear.