There is no good place to be homeless.
Urban shelters, suburban churches, or motel rooms in rural Minnesota are not a substitute for a home of your own, but in times of crisis, they can be a life saver. But far too many Minnesotans do not have access even to this most basic of needs.
According to the Wilder Research 2012 homeless report, 12% of Twin Cities homeless are unsheltered. In Greater MN, an alarming 41% of homeless are unsheltered, thus living in cars, storage sheds, fish houses and other unfit places. Perhaps nowhere is the crisis more apparent than on and near the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.
Last summer up to 100 men, women, and children lived in tents on the Leech Lake Veterans Memorial Grounds in Cass Lake. Untold more lived outdoors in various places in the surrounding area. But the good news is that a shelter is opening on the Reservation.
Open Your Heart was pleased to award a grant for the purchase of a van to allow staff and volunteers to conduct outreach to homeless people throughout that area. With reliable transportation, a chronic issue for those homeless and in need of shelter and services, it is critical that the shelter staff is able to reach out. The isolation of people who are homeless or those fleeing domestic violence in Greater MN is a significant barrier in ensuring that those in need are able to access the most basic of services.
We are very happy with the leadership of tribal officials and the hard work of so many to bring this important project to the greater Cass Lake community and are thankful to our donors for making this grant possible.