Homeless coalition hosts conversations about Duluth’s housing issues

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:43 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless kicked off its annual conference at the DECC Monday.

Organization leaders raised questions about the challenge of homelessness in Duluth.

“How do we start a new shelter in our community? We have a lot of encampments,” Coalition Director of Organization Matt Traynor said. “I know Duluth is struggling with that and a lot of places are.”

The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless brought together housing organizations and state leaders to join in on the conversation.

“The conference is like the housing event of the year,” Lived Experience Advocacy Network (LEAN) Member Michael Giovanis said. “This is where everybody who works in housing and in the homelessness arena comes, so this is an incredibly important networking event.”

LEAN is a group that brings people who have experienced homelessness together.

“From a lived experience perspective a lot of the times, and this is ironic in a sense, we’re viewed as outsiders when it comes to the housing world,” Giovanis said. “When we show up to the tables, people are surprised we’re there.”

The conference allowed LEAN and other groups to bring members together to find concrete solutions to housing; solutions like starting a new shelter or creating new resources in already-existing shelters.

“This opportunity to collectively come together and think about how we lift up those stories, bring them forward to decision-makers, whether it’s in the local area, state or national level, that’s the beauty of the work to me,” Life House Co-Director Jordon Eunison-Chisti said.

It’s a narrative that Eunison-Chisti said is much needed in the conversation.

“Much of the programming we do now has come from conversations at conferences like this,” Eunison-Chisti said.

The Minnesota Coalition has been advocating since 1984 and secured $100 million from state funding this past legislative session.

Traynor said the conferences help find tangible ways to use the money.

“It’s really just making sure that people working in homelessness have a space to come together and talk about how are you going to use that money, and how can you plan for once you get it because they haven’t gotten the money yet,” Traynor said.

According to Traynor, the funding should reach shelters and organizations in the next couple of years.

The conference wraps up Tuesday. Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan will be in attendance to join the conversation.

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