Pioneer Press spreads good news about crisis shelter extension and reports state of suburban homelessness

pioneer-pressThanks to the Pioneer Press for covering the good news at the shelter…

Monica Nilsson was in good spirits Thursday night while her guests were unwinding before bed.

Nilsson, who has been running a traveling cold-weather crisis shelter at four Dakota County churches for more than a month, had just gotten the good news that she and others were hoping for: Money was donated that will keep the operation running another week.

The shelter opened Dec. 15 at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley and was set to close Friday at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan. On Thursday, several Dakota County churches donated about $9,000 to keep it open until Jan. 27, Nilsson said.

Their story helps shine a light on suburban homeless and public awareness if half the battle; the other half is making shelter a priority in the county…

In Dakota County, the long-term goal is to have a permanent shelter for single men and women up and running by 2018 or sooner, Nilsson said.

Kastler said the county will be at the table with the faith community “to think through financing options both for the actual purchase of a building, for any renovation that is needed and for ongoing services.”

“It’s not something we have in the budget, but it’s something we as county staff feel is important,” she said. “We want to see this service extended in Dakota County.”

Nilsson said she has been encouraged by recent visits to the shelter by elected officials, including county commissioners Tom Egan and Mike Slavik; State Sen. Jim Carlson; State Rep. Erin Maye Quade; and Eagan City Council members Meg Tilley and Gary Hansen.

“When I talk with interested people I want them to have both a sense of urgency that people need help now, but also a sense of hope that people’s conditions change with connections to other people, to health care, to housing,” Nilsson said. “So the question will be: Are we going to leave things like this, or help people?”

 

Minneapolis Star Tribune shares story of Dakota County Crisis Shelter

Thanks to the Minneapolis Star Tribune for their story on the Crisis Shelter, recognizing the work of the participating churches, Dakota County, staff and countless volunteers…

A coalition of Dakota County churches had been meeting for over a year to discuss solutions to local homelessness. When the frigid weather prompted county officials to ask the community for immediate help, Roske-Metcalfe said, several churches stepped up.

Church staff members had never run a temporary shelter, but they got to work, calling restaurants for food donations and volunteers to provide supplies. The county donated $3,000 and covered overnight staffing. Beds came from a Minneapolis nonprofit.

And recognizing the need for awareness of the homelessness in Dakota County…

Many people still doubt homelessness exists in suburbs because they don’t see panhandlers on street corners like in the central cities. Suburban homeless often stay out of sight. The county estimated its homeless population at 63 people in January 2016, based on the number of people county workers found living outside, Nilsson said.

While building and staffing another Dakota County shelter is a far-off goal, the temporary shelter’s success was motivating, Roske-Metcalfe said: “It may turn out to be the kick in the ass that we needed.”