MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The number of homeless people in Minnesota is on the rise, but there’s one group working to reverse the trend.
The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness is a joint effort between 11 different state agencies. All of them are focused on helping the homeless living in tents near Hiawatha and Franklin Avenues in Minneapolis.
As Reg Chapman shows us, it’s a mission that’s now met with an even stronger sense of urgency.
“The encampment has made it more visible,” said Cathy Ten Broeke.
The encampment, now with more than 150 tents, is physical proof for many that there is an issue of homelessness in Minnesota.
Ten Broeke is state director of Prevent and End Homelessness. She says there is good and bad news in the organization’s push to end homelessness by 2020. Since 2014, the number of homeless families across the state is down 30 percent.
“Unfortunately, what we are all seeing right now is that unsheltered homelessness in that same time period has gone up 40 percent,” Ten Broeke said.
George is one of those unsheltered people who uses a sign to ask for help.
“You stand there for an hour, you have a thousand cars pass by and you don’t get one penny,” George said. “I’m trying to survive until my life changes a little bit.”
He’s one of many people standing on street corners and at highway entrances, riding light rails or sleeping on sidewalks because affordable housing is out of their reach.
“Most people just ignore me,” George said.
Ten Broeke says the state sees them and is working to increase transitional and emergency housing. On any given night in Minnesota, there are 7,000 beds available, but more than 7,600 people who need them.
“We really need people to give their voices,” Ten Broeke said.
Ten Broeke says the awareness is there, but the first step to really making an impact is talking to your elected officials. She believes housing stability is good for the community and working with partners will help address the immediate need to house the homeless.