More spaces available this winter for people experiencing homelessness

MSR file photo A homeless encampment outside

Partners from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and State of Minnesota are coming together to encourage people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Hennepin County to come inside as winter weather arrives.

Related Story: Ramsey County Board approves use of Bethesda Hospital as homeless shelter

A broad coalition of government agencies, nonprofit and philanthropic partners are currently operating the largest and safest emergency shelter system that has ever existed in Hennepin County as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These collective efforts have thus far allowed us to avoid the devastating impacts COVID-19 has had on people experiencing homelessness in other cities.

There is existing emergency shelter capacity, especially for women, children and families. Emergency shelters continue to see beds becoming newly available each day, and some go unused each night. There are also around 200 current vacancies in board and lodge facilities, which provide low-barrier housing that people can access today.

Partners are also working to open new spaces that meet the individual needs of people sleeping outside before the end of the year, and to make permanent improvements to ensure COVID-19 safety guidelines continue to be met at existing and new shelter spaces, as they have since the beginning of the pandemic.

By the end of 2020, partners, including city, county, state and philanthropy, plan to invest $55 million to open at least seven sites to provide emergency shelter, low-barrier housing and protective housing for people experiencing homelessness, as well as enhance existing shelters and expand support services and street outreach. An additional 670 units of very affordable housing designated for people experiencing homelessness will have opened or begun construction by the end of this year.

Partners recognize that emergency shelter may not meet everyone’s individual needs. We are committed to working directly with individuals to find the best solutions available. One person sleeping outside is too many. We are committed to making full use of the options available right now, even as we bring more online.

So far in 2020, 1,300 people experiencing homelessness have found permanent housing with help from city, county, state and nonprofit partners.

Get connected to shelter

Hennepin County

  • Single adults: Call Adult Shelter Connect at 612-248-2350.
  • Families: Call the Hennepin County Family Shelter Team at 612-348-9410. Hennepin County practices a “shelter all” commitment for families.

New safe spaces, enhanced shelter and expanded supports expected by year’s end

  • Homeward Bound, 50 beds for Native American adults, $7.5 million total investment, planned opening December 1
  • Lerner Building, 100 separate units in an “indoor village” for people currently experiencing unsheltered homelessness, $6 million total investment, planned opening end of December
  • Salvation Army emergency shelter, 30 beds for women experiencing unsheltered homelessness, $1.3 million total investment, planned opening December 1
  • Simpson Housing emergency shelter, 20 beds for women experiencing unsheltered homelessness on a separate floor of Simpson Housing’s existing emergency shelter location, $400,000 total investment, opened in October

New protective housing sites are also being acquired to replace hotel rooms currently leased by Hennepin County for people at high risk of COVID-19 complications due to age or underlying health conditions | $20-30 million total investment

Enhancements to all existing shelters to improve safety and meet CDC COVID-19 guidelines | $5.7 million total investment

  • $3.2 million to make physical improvements to existing shelter sites such as air flow systems, partitions, etc.
  • $2.5 million to ensure all existing shelters continue to provide 24/7 accommodations

Expanded support services | $17.4 million total investment

  • $675,000 to expand homeless diversion services at Simpson Housing to help people find alternatives to shelter
  • $700,000 to add seven new street outreach workers
  • $16 million in state ESP-CV and CARES Act funding to expand shelter capacity at hotels/motels and shelters, extend shelter hours, increase staffing, support outreach workers and food provision

670 additional units of affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness

In addition to these investments, city, county, state, nonprofit and philanthropic partners continue to work together to develop and preserve permanent affordable housing and to create policies that support a variety of housing options.

Twelve projects with 670 units of new housing designated for people experiencing homelessness will have opened or begun construction by the end of this year, including:

  • Catholic Charities Exodus 2.0 (construction beginning soon): 203 units for people experiencing chronic homelessness
  • Park 7 (open now): 61 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Mino-Bimaadiziwin (opening December 2020): 17 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Maya Commons (opened July 2020): 12 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Penn Avenue Union (opened August 2020): 4 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Lake Street Phase 1 (opening late 2020): 6 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Franklin Avenue AICDC site (opening soon): 20 beds for Native American residents experiencing homelessness with chemical dependency
  • Gateway NE (opening early 2021): 10 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Scattered site opportunities (opening soon): 200 new units for people experiencing homelessness, including 100 permanent and 100 time-limited, at various sites around the county with subsidies and support services
  • Amber Apartments (construction beginning soon) – 17 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Lydia Apartments (construction beginning soon) – 80 units for people experiencing homelessness
  • Anishinabe III (construction beginning soon) – 40 units for people experiencing homelessness

New policies to support affordable housing and shelter under review in Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis is also working on an ordinance to allow shared housing in the city, which would create additional low-barrier, affordable housing options. Zoning requirements related to emergency shelters are also under review to make sure the city can continue to provide adequate shelter space for those who need it.

Information provided by Hennepin County