On Sunday, Feb. 16, sixty people gathered to make 200 sandwiches for the Simpson Shelter and to package granola bars for Soup for You soup kitchen during our intergenerational event. The Simpson Shelter, located at 28th and Nicollet in south Minneapolis, is an emergency shelter started by Simpson United Methodist Church during the very cold and snowy winter of 1981. They have 66 beds but often many more people who would like them. Since opening the shelter, Simpson Housing Services has become a 501(c)(3) and now works with people to get them into transitional and permanent housing, with the goal being that they need emergency shelter for as short a time as possible. Here is a link to the PBS video about Simpson Shelter.
The experience of both learning about and doing something tangible helps us begin to grasp the concept of homelessness in the Twin Cities. According to their latest numbers, the Roseville Area School District estimates there are 275 school age children who are homeless or unstably housed. This does not count their parents and other family member!
We are seeing a need right here in our own community and we are discerning that we may have the gifts to do something. We can’t solve homelessness but we can make a meaningful impact for some of those people. We are beginning the process of discerning if we can use our land and other resources to help people who are in need of affordable housing. We don’t know yet what that will look like but all ideas are welcome. Maybe it will look like:
- the tiny houses for homeless veterans that Pastor John Klawiter’s church Faith in Forest Lake will be constructing; or
- the 39 studio apartments for formerly homeless teens that Edina Community Lutheran Church recently built; or
- plots for houses to be built for families by Habitat for Humanity; or
- a homeless shelter like that being contemplated by Christ Lutheran Church; or
- something completely different that will best meet the needs of the Roseville community.
Having ideas about a tangible project provided the lens through which Anne Haugan and I attended a Faith Leader Housing Summit last week sponsored by the Joint Religious Housing Coalition. This was a diverse group of people from imams and rabbis, to pastors and people who have experienced homelessness. It was a day of learning from the Wilder Foundation about their study of homelessness in Minnesota and hearing from Governor Tim Walz who is passionate about solving the homelessness issue. This year’s bonding bill contains the largest budget ever to provide housing for low income Minnesotans.
We can’t solve homelessness ourselves, but together we can make a big difference! You are invited to pray about how God is calling us to make a difference.