30 homeless women evacuated from encampment to hotels

City used federal funds to fund $400,000 contract

By: - November 4, 2021 4:46 pm

Jasmine Davis, 34, helps gather trash at an encampment where he was staying along Franklin Avenue near Cedar Avenue Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Davis said this was his first time experiencing homelessness after recently losing his apartment. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.

The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center was awarded a $400,000 contract to house 30 homeless, single, Native women who were moved out of two encampments near Cedar and Franklin Avenues in early October.

The nonprofit was hired to provide outreach in the two weeks leading up to the city’s evacuation of the encampments, offering housing and services to the people living there, and to provide temporary emergency shelter to people transitioning out of the encampments, providing daily operations and staffing at the hotel. 

MIWRC used the money to expand a pilot program called Hotels to Homes by 30 beds. The program was started last winter with state pandemic funding, enough to house five people at a hotel and provide wrap-around services.

“It is essential to understand that we are addressing generational homelessness and trauma in many forms,” said Marisa Cummings, president and CEO of the MIWRC. “Each relative has a unique need and we are addressing each relative and meeting them where they are at.” 

In the four weeks since the program expanded, Cummings said of the 30 women in the hotel, one has been housed, several have housing applications pending and others have expressed interest in treatment for substance use disorders.  

“Community building and trust are essential to this work and the relatives have been engaged in programming and relationship building with staff,” she said. 

The “emergency solutions grant program” is for street outreach and emergency shelter through the end of 2021, according to the contract. 

The money to expand the program by 30 came from federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act. The contract says $163,000 of the funding will go to fund 12 full-time employee salaries and $23,000 in technology.

The contract requires MIWRC to provide the residents three meals per day, clothing, over-the-counter medication, transportation to critical appointments and “environmental cleaning and pest control that is beyond the scope of usual non-congregate shelter housekeeping.” The nonprofit also received county funding, and must coordinate with county housing teams and community service providers to help residents get permanent housing. 

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.