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Continued: Advocate for the homeless sets her sights high

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 16, 2007 - 8:33 PM

"The whole movement is about breaking cycles."

Progress on housing

Less than a year into the plan, progress has been made. Using funding from a state plan to tackle homelessness, a single team of workers has found housing for 90 single adults who were homeless for an average of 11 years. The new apartment dwellers typically pay 30 percent of their income toward their new homes, while both tenants and landlords get support through the program. Ten Broeke said the reaction from landlords has been good.

"One landlord who said he got into it because he thought it was the right thing to do said it was the best business decision he ever made," ten Broeke said. "He said, 'I get paid on time, and if I have an issue I have someone to call and they respond immediately. That's not the case with my other tenants.'"

While a significant number of people who are persistently homeless have other issues, such as mental illness or chemical dependency, services aimed at helping them work better once they are in the stability of a home, ten Broeke said. She said it simply isn't acceptable to have someone living in homeless shelters year after year.

"We want to only use shelters as they were intended," she said. "Does that mean no one will ever become homeless? Probably not. But we will have a completely different response to it. In that way, I believe we will end homelessness as we know it."

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380

Mary Jane Smetanka •


    Home: Minneapolis

    Age: 38

    Family: Partner Margaret Miles; ten Broeke is due to give birth to a son Nov. 5.

    Pets: A dog and three cats.

    Education: 1991 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in psychology and speech communication.

    Hobbies: She is a photographer and plays "clawhammer" banjo, an old-time music style.

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