Working Together to Address Homelessness

How a cross-sector partnership supported creation of the Winter Safe Space

As temperatures drop and winter gets into full swing, many of us are contemplating how we can help the growing number of people experiencing homelessness in our communities. Low unemployment rates, skyrocketing rents, a lack of affordable housing, and a need for more mental health and substance abuse services are contributing to the rise of unsheltered homeless individuals in cities across the nation.

At the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, we’ve partnered with local community leaders from the City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County and the nonprofit sector to work together to fund more outreach workers, provide more shelter space in downtown Saint Paul and help long-term shelter users move into more permanent housing.

“Homelessness is something that touches an entire community,” said Ann Mulholland, executive vice president at the Foundation.

“From law enforcement to local government to nonprofit organizations, efforts are being made to support the rising number of people in our community who are without a safe place to stay. This partnership brings together these efforts, allowing us to make a greater impact through short- and long-term solutions from expanding shelter space to addressing the need for more affordable housing.”

This cross-sector partnership supported partners like the City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County and Catholic Charities in the creation of the Winter Safe Space — an emergency shelter that opened in downtown Saint Paul in 2017, providing more than 700 people a place to sleep over the course of the winter. The safe space is open again this winter season, for a longer timeframe and with a greater capacity.

Donors Contribute to Fund the Winter Safe Space

None of this would have been possible without the support of donors.

Multiple fundholders partnering with the Foundation stepped in and contributed over $100,000 to help secure the necessary funding to make the Winter Safe Space a reality.

“We are both inspired by and grateful for fundholders who invest in our communities,” said Jeremy Wells, vice president of Philanthropic Services at the Foundations. “The funding of the Winter Safe Space is just one example of the incredible impact that is possible because of strong and nimble partnerships between passionate donors and community foundations.”

Since February 2018, the work of this partnership has resulted in outreach workers engaging with more than 900 individuals, housing 19 people and enrolling more than 60 others into case management services, meaning they are in the process of finding housing. The group is also working to develop systemic solutions to homelessness, including increasing the affordable housing supply, reducing barriers that prevent people experiencing homelessness from getting housing, and providing long-term support to help prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Contact us to learn more about how you can partner with the Foundations to support your neighbors experiencing homelessness.

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