MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One look around city parks in Minneapolis and you will see tents serving as homes for people who have nowhere else to live.

On Tuesday, the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the state announced plans to create three new shelters in hopes it will help address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

“It’s a $20 million investment with $8.3 million coming from the city, $9.3 million from the county, and $1.8 million from the state going to three separate homeless shelters,” said Mayor Jacob Frey.

In total, the three shelters will have at least 110 beds and 167 affordable housing units.

A culturally sensitive shelter will house 50 members of the Native American community near Cedar and Franklin Avenue. Native Americans are 27 times more likely to experience homelessness than their white counterparts.

“It matters that when you are at your most vulnerable, you have a place you can go where your culture is seen and respected,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan at a press conference Tuesday.

The second shelter will be reserved for women experiencing homelessness. The Gordon Center site in the Willard-Hay neighborhood in north Minneapolis has sat empty since 1990. After a few renovations, it will house 50 Black and Brown women who are experiencing homelessness.

“The proximity of the Gordon Center to NorthPoint’s culturally specific services for Black residents means that women will have access to treatment, to job search, healthcare, other wrap-around supports. It’s incredibly important that access is there,” said Commissioner Angela Conley.

Conley also drew attention to the ways in which Black women are disproportionately impacted by the homeless crisis; as of Friday, 86 women in Minneapolis reported they were chronically homeless, 46 of which are Black.

The third site on East 14th Street will house the medically vulnerable, including designated units for veterans. Called Exodus 2, the site will provide homes and healthcare for 203 people, according to Tim Marx, CEO of Catholic Charities.

The collaboration will help reduce the number of homeless people we see in tents like those seen in Powderhorn Park, and other parks throughout Minneapolis. Frey said that in addition to the 110 beds that will become available through the three new shelters, 110 units of affordable housing will be available in early 2021. The city is also closing on 200 more units later this year.

MORE: As Homeless Encampments Continue To Grow In Parks, Neighbors Look For Answers

However, Frey and others agree, this effort will not solve homeless crisis in Minneapolis.

“Yes it makes a dent but no we still have a whole lot of work to do,” said Frey.

For now, the goal is to get people out of harm’s way, provide them with emergency shelter, and then move them toward affordable and stable housing. The Minneapolis City Council should approve the funds for the new shelters next week. The first shelter for the Native American community is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

Reg Chapman

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