Minnesota officials aim to end chronic homelessness

Published 1:59 pm Saturday, March 18, 2017

ST. PAUL — Thousands of people in the Twin Cities have been homeless for years, despite a coordinated effort by city, state and nonprofit leaders that has cut chronic homelessness nearly in half since 2010.

The number of chronic and “unsheltered” homeless people in Minnesota has dropped 48 percent in recent years, falling from over 1,450 people in January 2010 to nearly 750 in January 2016.

“We have a goal to end chronic homelessness by the end of this year, and that’s going to take some serious, accelerated investment strategies,” said Cathy ten Broeke, state director to prevent and end homelessness. “We do know how to end homelessness for that group. We need the resources and the will to make it happen.”

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She said housing is the first step to solving any challenges a homeless person may face.

“Once they’re in housing, they’re much more successful at getting treatment,” said Cathy ten Broeke, state director to prevent and end homelessness. “I’ve never met somebody able to recover from whatever is going on in their life while they’re still sleeping under a bridge.”

Since 2013, the Minnesota InterAgency Council on Homelessness has spearheaded Heading Home Minnesota. The “housing first” efforts have included an expansion and renovation of Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day homeless center.

Katie Kennedy, an outreach worker for People Incorporated, which runs a wide array of social service programs, said there are still challenges despite the efforts.

“Little things like that can set you back. … I’ve had clients say, ‘Nobody’s going to house me, nobody cares,’” Kennedy said. “Because they’re tried to do it on their own, and it’s really hard to navigate the system.”