Visibility of homelessness issue in Twin Cities increases even as numbers decline

January 16, 2019 05:11 PM

Large homeless camps in Minneapolis and St. Paul have forced awareness of the situation in the Twin Cities.

Most recently, the city of Minneapolis shut down the camp near Hiawatha and Franklin avenues and relocated people to a new site with new resources along Cedar Avenue.

Steve Horsefield with Simpson Housing Services says progress has been steady since the gates opened to the navigation center in south Minneapolis.

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"We're looking forward to finding our rhythm with construction being completed,” he said.

Horsefield said what's helped is the community and Native organizations assisting with packing, transportation and getting people settled into their temporary home. 

"The only challenge associated with this is simply the fact that we're operating this thing and building it at the same time,” Horsefield said.


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While the issue of homelessness is taking center stage in the heart of the Twin Cities, the number of reported homeless is actually down slightly in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's year-to-year comparison shows a large increase in surrounding counties - up nearly 15 percent.

"With 66 residents, we could double this easily and still have a wait list,” Tracy Pierce with Stepping Stone Emergency Housing said. 

Pierce said they are the only emergency shelter for single adults in the five-county suburban metro area.

Pierce said the problem they're seeing is the housing wage gap.

"Forty percent of our residents work at least part time. We have residents that work full time but they still can't afford housing,” she said.

Pierce said she would characterize homelessness in suburban areas as "invisible." The same scenario could not be said for the Twin Cities, where the suffering of others is right in your face.

"If we could've had 120 folks indoor in a safer environment soon that would have been wonderful,” Pierce said. 

To help fight the wage gap homeless issue Stepping Stone is seeing in the five-county suburban metro, they have come up with a program called "housing club."

They are pairing up like-minded working residents in their shelters to become roommates in an apartment.

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Todd Wilson

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