Hope for the homeless

| May 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

Catholic Charities to build new housing facility

Bishop Lee Piché, right, joins Msgr. Jerome Boxleitner, director emeritus of Catholic Charities, seated, and others in a groundbreaking May 24 for Catholic Charities’ new housing facility and shelter, called Higher Ground, which is scheduled to be completed in summer 2012. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

As the City of Minneapolis picked up the pieces after a devastating tornado ravaged its northern portion May 22, Cath­o­lic Charities brought some much-needed good news to the area.

On May 24, more than 100 supporters gathered to witness the groundbreaking of a new facility located about a mile from Target Field that will provide permanent housing and temporary shelter for low-income and vulnerable people.

Called Higher Ground, the seven-story, $18 million housing facility will replace Catholic Charities Secure Waiting, an outdated shelter that opened 15 years ago as a temporary shelter for people who are homeless.

Innovative model

The new facility is located on Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis, and will be part of an existing Catholic Charities complex, which consists of the Glenwood and Evergreen complexes. Higher Ground will provide 336 units of shelter and housing, including 200 emergency and transitional beds.

According to Tracy Berglund, Catholic Charities director of housing and emergency services, the facility will have 85 permanent housing units, with plans to move in people now using Secure Waiting. Construction is estimated to be completed in summer 2012.

“It’s an innovative new model for moving folks out of shelter and into housing,” Berglund said. “We hope to move some very seriously mentally ill clients from the [Secure Waiting] shelter into housing. They’re clients who have been with us for years and they have an opportunity to have a home of their own.

“This building is a big deal. Clients will literally have the opportunity to move from the first floor shelter to the seventh floor efficiency units. . . . It’s just a higher quality of life. It’s the dignity that each person deserves.”

Confirming that dignity was Bishop Lee Piché, who not only said a prayer at the start of the program, but quoted from a letter written to Catholic Charities by Archbishop John Nienstedt, who was invited to come but could not attend.

“We applaud Catholic Charities for serving Christ in the least among us with this new housing and emergency shelter program,” the archbishop said. “In addition to our prayers, the archdiocese is pleased to contribute $100,000 to support the construction of this project.”

Right thing to do

The largest source of funding for the project was the State of Minnesota/Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, which provided $12.75 million. Hennepin County kicked in $2.145 million and Catholic Charities raised $2.346 million in private donations.

“Providing people with a place to live is not only the morally right thing to do, it makes good economic sense,” said Tim Marx, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“This partnership between private social services providers and government, private businesses and donors allows us to come together as a community, and demonstrates the good that comes when we focus on doing what’s right,” he said.

Said Hennepin County commissioner Gail Dorfman: “Congratulations to Catholic Charities and the Community Housing Development Corporation for envisioning this innovative housing, shelter and supportive services model that will break the vicious and costly cycle of homelessness experienced by too many of our most vulnerable residents.

“Higher Ground is about ending homelessness with compassion and expertise, creating a place where dignity is restored and hope renewed.”

Category: Featured, Local News