Pohlad, Avivo and Bridging: Pulling together to find real solutions

02/07/2020 by arcstone
Guest blog post written by Kelly Harding, Client Services Manager

Community Concerns & Innovative Responses

Last fall the Twin Cities community expressed deep concern when a growing number of people experiencing homelessness began a camp near the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue (Highway 55) and Franklin Avenue in South Minneapolis. At the height of the concern, hundreds of people resided there. The location eventually came to be known as the Wall of Forgotten Natives.

In response to this camp, the community pulled together an impressive amount of resources. From waste and food support to mental health and chemical health resources– the response of community organizations, Minneapolis city officials and Tribal Nation leaders was astounding.

But these solutions did not provide true dignity and housing solutions to these members of our community. It is important to Bridging to provide a quick response that also ensures a dignified experience for clients. A strong partnership was needed.

The Community Responds

A network of organizations provided both short-term and long-term solutions. Individuals and families were initially relocated to Simpson Housing’s Navigation Center, an innovative shelter responding directly to the needs of community members living outdoors. Red Lake Nation provided access to their land for the shelter. Avivo then stepped in to provide permanent housing support and ongoing case management. Problem solved, right? Not so fast…

When someone moves into housing from homelessness the experience can actually be destabilizing.

No longer do you have meals and a shelter bed. Though the change to your own private home is a welcome one, it can be difficult. If you don’t have the items you need make a house a home, then you are left with a roof over your head, but no way to cook and nowhere to sleep. The space is simply an empty box, without the resources and community you need to thrive.

Innovative Partnership

Bridging knows this need well. In response to the quick housing solutions mentioned above, Bridging worked together with Avivo and the Pohlad Family Foundation to secure funding. This funding supported 168 individuals from the Wall of Forgotten Natives and the Navigation Center who moved into permanent housing. These 68 households shopped at Bridging for furniture and housewares and received delivery of their items. The quick work and partnership between Avivo and Bridging, along with the responsiveness of the Pohlad Family Foundation meant that these items were ready for households as soon as people secured housing.

Bronwen Tynddol, case manager with Avivo, reports that the visits to Bridging made a difference for her clients. She recounts that the furniture allowed one family who recently lost an immediate family member to move onto the next phase of their lives. “Having a space and being able to make it your own makes a huge difference,” the client said. She also shared the positive experience clients had shopping with our personal shopping volunteers—the experience offered both joy and relief. “They did the joyfulness with her,” said Tynddol of the shopping volunteers.

What’s Next

The camp may be gone, but homelessness persists.

Every 3 years, Wilder Foundation conducts a count of those experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. According to the report, in October 2018, more than 10,000 individuals experienced homelessness. Affordable housing cannot meet the demand – in Hennepin County alone there are an estimated 74,000 “extremely poor households” with annual incomes less than $26,000. There are only 14,000 publicly subsidized units that can currently meet the need.

As the community continues to strive towards housing solutions, Bridging will continue to seek innovative solutions with agencies and households seeking housing stability.

If you know of a new housing program or affordable housing property we should partner with, let us know at client.services@bridging.org. Working alongside community partners is our forte. We would love to explore new programs and funding sources to ensure that new housing becomes home for Minnesotans leaving homelessness.

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