A dozen people living in the massive homeless camp in south Minneapolis will move into a south Minneapolis fourplex, after Hennepin County allocated more than $214,000 for the emergency housing.
The Hennepin County Board on Tuesday approved using state grants to relocate people to a building at 2408 4th Av. S. The nonprofit American Indian Community Development Corp. (AICDC) purchased the fourplex on Oct. 1 from St. Stephen’s Human Services, which for more than 40 years had operated a residence there for American Indian women recovering from addiction.
Camp dwellers will begin to move in next week, according to Michael Goze, CEO of the AICDC. County officials said tenants would mostly be American Indian women and their children.
The county is drawing from a state Department of Human Services fund that pays for housing for low-income seniors or adults with disabilities, which include mental illness and chemical dependency.
The home can house anywhere from 12 to 16 people, according to Jennifer DeCubellis, Hennepin County’s deputy administrator for health and human services. County staff at the camp would find and refer people to AICDC, who could then be screened to live in the home, she said.
Late last month, the Minneapolis City Council approved relocating the homeless camp residents to a site owned by the Red Lake Nation a few blocks away. That’s expected to happen in December.
Although the building on 4th Avenue S. would take some of the pressure off the camp, Goze recognized it wasn’t enough to help scores that are living about a mile away along Hiawatha Avenue as temperatures continue to drop.
“We still have to look at how to deal with the rest of the folks,” he said. “But it’s a start.”
Goze said workers are currently renovating the property, installing flooring and painting to make it “a place we can all be proud of.”
County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin thanked county and state staff for working quickly to secure funding and open the home.
“This is part of the effort that is being made … to chip away at the population that is there,” he told the County Board Tuesday. “We don’t turn things around this fast very often.”
St. Stephen’s had operated the Kateri Residence in the building since the 1970s, providing temporary housing for young women battling addiction and helping them find jobs and reunite with their children. Over time it became an important part of the local American Indian community.
But in December, the social agency announced it was closing the home, citing financial troubles. The program was shut down in July.
Patina Park, the executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and chair of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, had been interested in buying the building but said she was pleased it was purchased by an American Indian group.
Both the Women’s Resource Center and the AICDC have provided services to homeless people at the encampment. Park is now looking for another property where she can revive the Kateri program.
“I’m so happy that it’s being used and not sitting empty like it had been since July,” she said.
Gail Dorfman, executive director of St. Stephen’s, said she was confident AICDC would make sure the home continued to serve American Indians as it had in the past.
“We’re going to continue work with partners in the community to find other opportunities,” she said.