Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan Create Winter Homeless Initiative For Minnesotans Without Shelter
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan were joined by business, philanthropic, and community leaders at a Minneapolis shelter this morning to announce the launch of the Minnesota Winter Homeless Initiative. This call to action has already spurred $4.82 million in investments from public, corporate, and non-profit entities. This effort is designed to immediately increase shelter capacity across the state for Minnesotans living outside this winter. On any given winter night, more than 1,600 Minnesotans sleep outside, including 300 children and youth. This figure has doubled statewide since 2015.
“Every Minnesotan deserves a safe, warm place to sleep at night,” Governor Walz said. “Yet from Minneapolis to Mankato, too many Minnesotans are without shelter in the winter. That is why our Administration is partnering with the private sector, philanthropic partners, and Minnesotans across the state to launch the Minnesota Winter Homelessness Initiative. Together as One Minnesota, we will bring our neighbors in from the cold.”
“This initiative is part of a larger strategy to develop more opportunities to connect people with long-term housing,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan.“But right now, when temperatures are dropping to the single digits and people are trying to survive outside, we have to prioritize getting people somewhere safe and warm, period. Shelters save lives and shelters can play a critical role in helping people connect to long-term solutions.”
Their call for leadership, creative ideas, and support led to the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation stepping in to develop the Minnesota Homeless Fund. It has already leveraged $4.82 million in new dollars to bring people inside this winter. As part of the Minnesota Winter Homeless Initiative, the Administration asks all Minnesotans to reach out to local community providers to help them bring people inside through donations and volunteering. They are also calling on local governments to prioritize their housing and services for those most in need and look for creative ways to make underutilized spaces available for people to use as shelter this winter.
“Since the closing of the Hiawatha encampment a year ago, Minnesotans have been working together to understand what is needed to better serve our neighbors across the state,” said Cathy ten Broeke, Assistant Commissioner and Executive Director of the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness. “As part of our larger plan to prevent and end homelessness in Minnesota, this initiative will bring new investments, awareness, and urgency to the need to bring people inside this winter and beyond.
Some immediate impacts of investments from the Minnesota Homeless Fund are:
- Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center in Minneapolis can provide a safe space for 25 to 30 women overnight;
- Voice of East African Women in Ramsey County can accommodate 20 mothers and children overnight;
- Washington County churches can increase overnight shelter capacity to accommodate an additional 30 people;
- YouthLink in Hennepin County can extend its hours to open up a safe overnight resting space for 35 homeless youth;
- Simpson Housing Services in Minneapolis can add 15 shelter beds for men and women; and
- Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Area in Northern Minnesota can place 25 people in three rented homes and apartments.
Today’s announcement comes on the 35th Annual Homeless Memorial March organized by Simpson Housing Services. The March recognizes the names and lives of people who died in the past year while homeless, underscoring the immediate and critical need for shelter now for people living outside.