Duluth City Council approves Safe Storage Program for people experiencing homelessness

Duluth City Council approves Safe Storage Program for people experiencing homelessness
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 8:59 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN. -- A new partnership between the city and a downtown Duluth non-profit will give people experiencing homeless some peace of mind.

Losing the things you love the most is something no one should have to experience.

“I slept outside on park benches and things like that, and I’ve had to hold on to that stuff,” said Seth Currier, the Executive Director of the Damiano Center. “You don’t sleep very well.”

Yet hundreds of Duluthian who are facing housing insecurities deal with that fear every day and are left wondering about how to keep the few items they have to their name, safe.

“People tell me they left their stuff with their friend, and they thought they could trust them, but they sold it,” said Currier. “Sometimes they gave it away, or you have people telling me their stuff got burned.”

An issue many city leaders have recognized.

″The city, the county, CUHM, Downtown Duluth, the Duluth Chamber, Human Development Center, Damiano, and the Duluth Fire Department are all working on what it will look like to have safe storage for people,” said Currier.

Monday Night, the city council took action.

The council passed a vote to approve funding for the upfront costs of building units in the Damiano Center, called the Safe Storage Program.

City Councilor Roz Randorf said this program is similar to one based out of Minneapolis. Noting that something as simple as storage was effective in giving people room to focus on finding a path out of homelessness.

“They would be able to look for jobs, to be able to look for housing, to able to meet with advisors, to meet with health care professionals,” said Roz Randorf, the Duluth Council Vice President.

The program will be funded by the state of Minnesota’s opioid settlement funds.

“Were taking $31,500 of that over six years, so think $5,200 a year to cover the upfront costs,” said Council Vice President Randorf.

Simply giving those who can’t lock up their valuables a place to put them, so they don’t have to carry them around.

“It’s more to allow people just to carry exactly what they need with them for their immediate needs,” said Currier. “Then this would be the things that they could access when they need them.”

The Damiano Center said the storage unit will be under 24-hour surveillance and only accessible to staff.

They said they won’t allow any alcohol, drugs, or weapons into the units.