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CARES Act to fund 'Indoor Villages' project to help those experiencing homelessness

Indoor Villages will be located in a warehouse somewhere in the North Loop neighborhood in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Like many things involving winter, efforts to help those who are homeless in Minneapolis is under a time crunch.

Avivo, a group based in Minneapolis aiming to end homelessness and provide recovery and career advancements, has been tapped to lead a project called "Indoor Villages." The concept involves individual units that are located in a warehouse. The Minneapolis city council approved money from the CARES Act for Avivo to act on this quickly before the temperatures drop.

"We look outside and we see that it's snowing," Emily Bastian, Vice President at Avivo's Ending Homelessness Initiative said. "We're consistently thinking about the importance of this project being efficient and effective and opening on time."

Bastian said they're working as fast as they can to construct and fill these Indoor Villages. The whole point of it is to provide not just shelter, but also privacy, availability to somewhat socially distance, safety and most importantly – dignity.

"Every individual will have their own tiny home structure and so it will be more like a neighborhood or a community," Bastian said. "Where yes, we're indoors, but everyone has their own space, and so people are not sleeping in cots next to each other or bed mats next to each other."

The villages are to be locate somewhere in the North Loop neighborhood. Bastian said it will also offer more than just housing. It will include services to connect people to career jump-starting opportunities.

"Once people do have an opportunity to be housed and be safe and be warm, especially in Minnesota, they just naturally start to think about what is next for them," she said. "What their goals, dreams and wishes are. And housing – permanent supportive housing – is a right for everyone. People don't want to just stay in a warehouse, they want to move into housing, obtain employment they want to reunify with family. Meet any sorts of goals just like what you and I have."

Bastian said the 100 units will help Minneapolis help those who are most vulnerable.

"Because of COVID and because of civil unrest in the Twin cities, the homeless community has become more visible now than it has been before," she explained. "But it's not new at all. Yes, it is time we increase the creative opportunities for people who are experiencing homelessness."

According to the most recent 2020 Point-In-Time count done for Minneapolis and Hennepin County, around 3,050 people are experiencing chronic or temporary homelessness. That count was done this past January. Bastian said Avivo is now in the works of securing the actual warehouse and they hope to start moving people in by December.