Minneapolis/St. Paul –
Some of the area’s most vulnerable are getting an opportunity to change their circumstances. After a pilot program to transition the long term homeless into permanent affordable housing was introduced two years ago, nearly 100 individuals have been placed in homes. The results are immediately apparent.
“I am living a new life,” said Dennis, said to the Star Tribune “I am meeting people who are not part of the homeless shelter system.” Citizens like Dennis had often found themselves trying to fit into a specific shelter system with rigid requirements. This program connects and matches them with landlords and property owners willing to take the chance on them. Participants are supported by a variety of programs that they choose on their own, though not everyone needs the same level of services. Some have chronic health problems that make full time work difficult, while others have a criminal history that would preclude them from being accepted by most landlords – even though they have full time jobs. Regardless of their individual circumstance, they all have one thing in common – the need for a home.
Originally begun as a partnership between the Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Ramsay County, the initial funding came from grants from two local foundations. Ramsay County has approved additional funds to support this program after seeing success. “We committed that if we got good results we would include it in our budget,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough told the Star Tribune. Once placed in housing, life stability and outcomes improve for nearly all participants. Only five have left the program since it’s inception in 2017.
Helping people move into permanent stable housing has immediate positive effects on their lives. People like Dennis, who had been homeless for years, see the change first hand: “The shelter life puts you in a mind-set where you are not thinking long term. It’s a survival mind-set,” Dennis said to Star Tribune reporter Shannon Prather. “Now I am thinking about my health.”