Bemidji’s Peoples Church Hoping for Proposed State Funding to Support Repairs
With the Minnesota legislature proposing significant investments for housing needs across the state, area shelters are hoping they will receive a portion of these funds.
Emergency shelters like the Peoples Church in Bemidji would have $150 million appropriated in 2024 to support the buildings and their facilities through HF 444. These funds will not only benefit the buildings, but the people inside as well.
The Peoples Church in Bemidji not only serves people spiritually but also provides a roof over their heads. Due to the wear-and-tear of almost 25 years in operation, this emergency shelter is one of many hoping to benefit from proposed state legislative funding.
HF 444 would require at least 40% of the money appropriated be to projects in greater Minnesota. Although this is a one-time appropriation, it lasts until June 30, 2028, providing time for the multitude of repairs to be completed.
Carol Priest, the board president of the Peoples Church, says from the inside out, repairs and renovations are needed. The basement egress windows leak, there are makeshift safety precautions in the kitchen, flooring is chipping away or replaced by temporary floorboards, and stairways are wearing down, becoming unsafe for workers and occupants alike.
“Construction costs have kept going up, and so the estimates that we had a couple years ago are probably not high enough anymore,” said Priest about the repair and renovation costs. “I would guess that if we put in a grant request…it would probably be something in the neighborhood of $200,000.”
While the appropriated money would benefit the infrastructure needs of emergency shelters like the Peoples Church, the people who use these shelters will possibly benefit the most from these potential funds.
Julia Plumb, the synodically authorized minister of the Peoples Church, says they primarily serve Native American people either from the area or the surrounding reservations of Red Lake, White Earth or Leech Lake. They also see other people of color and those who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community use the shelter. About 40% of the people who stay at the emergency shelter are women.
“It’s really important for us to be a safe place for people who are so vulnerable in our society,” explained Plumb.
HF 444 passed the Minnesota House on March 2. It is now passing through Senate committees, with its latest committee hearing on March 6. The Minnesota Legislature is expected to end by May 22.
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