By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most of us think it is cold just walking to and from their cars. But, just think if you had to sleep outside. It’s the reality for many Minnesotans.

3 Way Entertainment, along with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. are braving the elements to bring about awareness to homelessness.

They are accepting donations of blankets, coats, gloves, hats and anything else that can help bring warmth to people stuck out in the cold.

With the weather turning colder and icy, many are expected to pack shelters Saturday night.

“We’ve got some blankets, some pillows, some jackets,” said Sam Ndely, member of Phi Beta Sigma.

They got started at noon Saturday and the donations began to pile up. The men and women took one night out of their week to sleep outside. They hope to bring attention to people who have to sleep outside every night of their lives.

“Unfortunately, the shelter system at this point in Hennepin County has too few beds, by at least 100,” said Steve Horsfield, Chief Operating Officer for the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center.

Horsfield said there is a huge need for more shelter space.

“We’re fighting an overwhelming demand for shelter due to economic conditions and we have been for about the last 18 months,” Horsfield said.

At capacity, Harbor Light has very little room for people who have nowhere to go.

“We certainly expect with the temperatures tonight and with freezing rain coming that we will see more folks in. Unfortunately, the shelter will be crowded and we will continue to take the people in because that is what we do. We do not want to see them dying outside while we try and accommodate additional shelter needs,” Horsfield said.

They’ve been forced to make people sleep under florescent light. Some even have to sleep on mats in the chapel, but they’ll be warm.

“It’s difficult to see people on the [street] corners in the winter time, and it’s like, ‘Where you going to go for the night?” said Sam Ndely with Phi Beta Sigma.

Ndely said the need for more bed space drove Phi Beta Sigma to take action.

“It’s winter time and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. A lot of people don’t have homes,” he added.

They hope what they’re doing will spread and other organizations will do what they can to help keep the homeless out of the cold.

Harbor Light alone has placed 300 homeless people in permanent housing so far this year, but they can’t keep up. That’s why donated blankets and coats are so important for those who won’t find shelter.

The Salvation Army has begun their kettle drive, so people can drop some cash into the red kettles.

In addition, the men of Phi Beta Sigma will be at the North Community YMCA in Minneapolis until 9 a.m. Sunday to take donations.

Comments (17)
  1. Pete says:

    I have to say, nice try… But most people don’t need to be reminded or made more “aware” of the homelss. We’re alll reminded when we see somebody eating out of the trash or begging for 5 bucks. The homeless have been here forever and are staying. Thats just the way it is. If it was a fixable problem, it would have been fixed long ago.

  2. Amy Horsfield says:

    Wow I am glad to see that Pete would like to be part of the solution. It it that kind of negativity that keeps this country the way it is. I think the story showed how bad things are and how we as a society need to work together to try and help these people. I don’t know about the rest of Minnesota, but I know that I am NOT going to give up on these human beings!!!! With the weather that we are having, these people could die being outside. Pete I am sorry to hear that you don’t have a heart. And that you can’t be bothered by hearing a story about finding them shelter.

  3. Essenceme says:

    Wow Pete…way to come up with as solution to help those who are facing tough times. SO it someone’s live can’t be saved, do the doctors just give up, or do they still try to save that persons life?

    Sheesh, I for one am glad there are people out there who don’t give up on trying to come up with solutions to help people.

  4. David Olson says:

    I am so THANKFUL for the souls at the Harbor Light and others like them for extending open hands to those souls less fortunate; I am also thankful I am not like Pete.

  5. Tim says:

    Don’t bag on Pete for his beliefs. He’s just does not see an end to this issue. It has been around forever and not just here but i will say that if we cold fix the issue here in Minnesota it would be a great thing. I would have to challenge us all in thinking up newer ways to find a solution to this issue that plagues so many parts of the U.S.! I would like to see us fix the U.S. first then we can worry about the rest of the world. Think of ideas to fix the issue and lets see what we can do as people of this state.

    Happy Thankgiving Everyone

  6. TheHammer says:

    $6T spent on poverty since 1965 and the needle hasn’t moved. Keep flailing away liberals of course it will be with other peoples money and no results again…

  7. Pete says:

    I do have a heart and it does bother me… Especially when it comes to the kids I see on the streets. I’m almost 40 years old and as long as I can remember good hearted people with the best intentions try and fix the issue. But it cant be fixed. It’s all about money. So feeling thankful, (Dave) and feelng sorry for these folks isnt the answer. I dont know what the answer is, but that’s not it! From what I can gather from this report and people commenting, the answer is “Hand-outs.”

  8. Jill says:

    Unfortunately it’s a bigger problem than just money. A large amout of those who are homeless suffer from other things like mental illness. Without health insurance they can’t get the meds they need and they’re unable to get or maintain employment. That’s not the case will all, but with many. ( Wanting to help people should have nothing to do with being liberal but with being HUMAN. Until many things change, I think it’s great that people are at least trying to help and bring attention to the issue.

  9. Pete says:

    Jill, that’s a very good point.

  10. Kelly says:

    This doesn’t address all of it, and it really proves there is far more to deal with than just space, money, etc… although this may be hard to believe, and may not be the “norm”, there are actually some homeless people that opt to remain homeless. For their own reasons, they choose not to live with relatives, choose not to allow help from others, or whatever those reasons may be. I knew a woman who couldn’t “stand” living by her parents rules, so she opted for the streets. She lived that way for over 10 years. She preferred living the streets because it was easier than answering to others. I’m not saying to dismiss all those that would love nothing more than a warm bed every night, but as Pete said, this problem is long-standing and there is no “fix” in sight – especially if some don’t want to be fixed.

  11. Danielle El says:

    I am one of the members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority that did participate in the sleepout and braved the cold for this great cause. Any educated person would know that this national problem of homelessness will not have an easy fix. The point of the sleep out was to prove to others, who may not think that this issue is a problem. Instead of telling us how much you and others “don’t need to be reminded,” why don’t you tell us what you are doing to help chip away at this problem that so many people face today. Considering the state of the economy, many people have lost their homes due to ARM mortgages, loss or employment (and a myriad of other issues) anyone could be out on the street and we need more than just the government to pitch in.

    There is no need to belittle the efforts of my brother fraternity members of Phi Beta Sigma, in fact, they should be applauded for having the courage to sleep outside and brave the harsh weather that Minnesota brings every winter. So, the next time you want to comment negatively, why don’t you look in the mirror and ask yourself “what am I doing as a citizen that is priviledged to sleep in a bed, with clean sheets and blankets, lights in my home and gas to keep me warm, to help those less fortunate?”

    When you get that answer, please let us all know so that we may assist you in helping solve this long standing issue that plagues our communities, instead of saying that is just the way it is. If you do nothing, what do YOU expect will happen? Or will you continue to wait on the government to solve an issue that has been around since forever??? Don’t worry Pete; I won’t hold my breath.


    Danielle El
    Proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

  12. Steve Horsfield says:

    First off, thank you to WCCO and to Phi Beta Sigma for bringing publicity to this issue with this story. While the current issue is opening additional shelter beds in order to get people in from outside and relieve pressure on the overburdened shelter system, there is a lot more going on. People are being afforded the opportunity to move out of shelters into permanent housing at an unprecedented rate in Hennepin County right now. What’s amazing about these efforts is their efficiency. Projects like the Currie Avenue Partnership and housing work at The Harbor Light Center are getting people into permanent housing at a cost of less than $1000 each, which is approximately equivalent to the cost of providing a full service shelter bed for one month! We can only hope that we reach the point soon where these efforts will ‘break even’ with the rate at which people are losing their homes due to pressures related to a tough economy.

  13. Sunny says:

    A lot of our homeless here in Minnesota are youths. You may be shocked to find out that we rank #1 per capita in the nation for homeless youth (ages 14 –21) and for child trafficking – 1 out of every 10 teenage prostitutes in Las Vegas are from Minnesota. We have an average of 20,00 homeless teens a year in MN. There are as many as 600+ homeless teenagers per night in MN with only 64 homeless youth shelter beds available. Most towns in Greater Minnesota have no substantial homeless youth programs; leading many rural youth to move the Twin Cities, were they are particularly vulnerable. Within the first 36 – 48 hours homeless youth will be approached by someone in the sex or drug industry.

    40% of foster children become homeless before the age of 19, some homeless shelters do not allow children older than 14, many youth become “throw away” children being forced from their homes by their families due to abuse or neglect or runaway due to threats of violence or inhabitable conditions found in their homes – the stories are countless and sad. No teenage child should be out on the street alone.

    If you’d like to help with another outreach program, you can contribute to Source of Strength Bags. We are collecting necessity items and putting them in handmade bags and backpacks and delivering them to the kids on the streets. For a list of the items to donate or for cash donations (for tax deduction) please visit the Northgate Church website at . For more information regarding our homeless teens you can also visit the website for Source Ministries at

    All donations will be greatly appreciated.

  14. Pete says:

    I don’t think anybody was “belittled.” It’s just an honest opinion that spending the night out in the MN elements doesn’t make people more aware. I dont think people need to be “reminded.” How can anybody forget? It’s an awful problem that too many hard working folks are enduring. Not for one minute can I say I know what its like to be homeless. I imagine it’s a friggin’ nightmare. Especially on nights like tonight. I applaud the good people who have the time and rescources to keep shelters up and running. To me, that’s just saving lives. Simple as that. I don’t have a solution. Seems people having been wrapping their brains around this issue for decades and coming up short. I make my little donations here and there. Just like most. I also know it’s a privledge to sleep in a warm bed and type away on my desk top. I’m lucky enough to have a decent job that I appreciate every single day. If there is one thing in this world that rips me apart, it’s human suffering. And tonight I know on the streets of Minneapolis there is plenty. It breaks my heart… So you are correct. My part of the solution is little to none. Maybe 100 dollars a year. I apologize for sounding negative. I just see it as a reality that’s here to stay.

  15. Danielle El says:

    Thank you Pete for your honesty. Too many people are affected by this issue, as I was once in their shoes and I know what it is like and the solution to my problem was not not solved overnight. Just keep in mind every little bit helps and the $100 you donate will go to a good cause. Let’s all work together to do the best we can to help; that is all my organization and my brother fraternity asks of others.

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