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With Low Mpls. Vacancy Rates, Shelter Numbers Swell

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – People Serving People’s headquarters are in the shadows of the Metrodome. The ten-story, 110,000-square-foot building houses some of the most vulnerable citizens in our community.

Executive director Daniel Grumnit says poor people are the last to benefit from an improving economy. He believes the contributing factor to family homelessness is the lack of affordable housing.

“Minneapolis is second only to New York City in lack of vacancy. New York City is 2.5 percent vacancy. Minneapolis is 2.8. And if you look at the affordable housing numbers, we’re essentially at zero right now,” Grumnit said.

On any given day you will find a sea of children at People Serving People.

“The homeless children and families that we have at People Serving People – they are so much closer to you than you would ever imagine,” he said.

And the number of homeless families visiting PSP is growing.

“It’s really tragic to have to say that the new face of homelessness is that of a five-year-old child.” he said. “A year ago our average numbers were 349, 350. The other night we had 417 people here in our shelter, and probably 260, 270 of them were kids.”

Tonya, her 8-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter are among the growing number of homeless families in Minnesota.

“I had no income at all so I was forced to move from where I lived, and I lived with friends and family. I had all of my stuff in my car,” Tonya said. “Where am I going to take a shower? Where am I going to wash my clothes today?”

Tonya lost her job and her home, but People Serving People helped her get off the streets.

“Being here, I have been able to have my own space, me and my children safe,” she said.

Tonya is one of many who hope this hand-up will help them get out on their own

“I don’t feel sorry for myself. I look at the things that have happened to me in the past that I didn’t have any control over,” she said.

People Serving People is committed to helping those who have no control over their situation. Right now their building is packed. There are families sleeping in the library and the conference room.

If you would like to help, they are looking for diapers, warm winter coats, volunteers or monetary donations. Click here to view PSP’s website.

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