MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On any given night in Minnesota, about 6,000 young adults are homeless.
The on-going need for safe housing far exceeds what is available.
That is why Tuesday’s grand opening of a new five-story housing development in downtown Minneapolis is so exciting to so many.
WCCO has done many stories over the years about the growing number of homeless teenagers and young adults, and YouthLink’s work to help.
Finally, after years of fundraising, a $17-million apartment complex just opened. $11 million went towards the construction, and $6 million went to renovate existing adjacent facility and provide services to the tenants.
The money came from public funding and foundations, but some of it came from donations from WCCO viewers.
It is what you would expect when you walk into a newly-constructed downtown Minneapolis apartment building: Lots of light, bold colors and modern decor.
The tenants are between the ages of 18 and 24, and until now on most nights, they were homeless.
“Thirty-three have moved in, and the first 17 that moved in were all youth that were living on trains and buses,” said YouthLink executive director Dr. Heather Huseby. “For some of them, this was the first bed that they have had in two and three years.”
The building is on 12th Street next to YouthLink’s offices, and there are now 46 new units available to qualifying homeless youth.
“Most of the young people that are coming to us had a life of trauma, they have had a life of abuse, they’ve had a life of neglect,” Huseby said.
She says in the past, the staff was only able to recommend places for young people to stay overnight. Now, they can offer a permanent home. But living here comes with strict rules, and restrictions on visitors.
The tenants pay 30 percent of their income to live there, and they have access to job counselling and mental health professionals.
“By the time they leave, we hope that they now are on a good pathway to their own self-reliance,” she said. “It’s better for us to invest in this population now than to throw them away.”
YouthLink is still raising money to pay for the support services that are needed at the Downtown View apartment building. And they are trying to fill the units with hospitality baskets, which contain items like laundry detergent and dishes. They have also set up an Amazon wish list.