Reporting Susie Jones
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The 14th annual Project Homeless Connect in Minneapolis is underway at the Convention Center.
According to Matthew Ayres, the lead organizer of the event, they will serve about 1,800 people at the event, providing those in need with a variety of different services. There will be 65 licensed hair stylists, 70 lawyers coordinated through Faegre Baker Daniels, and 35 housing providers.
“We’ve got employers doing interviews on site, mental health and chemical health assessments. Plus we have ten dental chairs, pulling teeth and doing teeth cleaning,” Ayres said.
The biggest challenge facing many homeless obviously is affordable housing. Ayres said Minneapolis has a 1.6 percent vacancy rate, which is at nearly an historic low.
“The people that we serve traditionally are below the 50 percent medium income range, but many are under that, and for a family making $12,000 to $15,000 a year, there isn’t a lot of money, and not a lot of affordable housing.”
Ayres said many of the guests, who are each given a volunteer to work with, leave feeling more hopeful than they were when they came in, knowing the community cares.