Concerned members of the community will rally today in front of City Hall calling for immediate action to protect the lives and dignity of people experiencing homelessness. They will set up tents representing the growing number of Duluthians sleeping outside in sub-zero temperatures.
What: InTENTs Needs: We demand action
Who: American Indian Movement-Twin Ports, Loaves and Fishes Community, and other concerned Duluthians
When: Monday, October 26, 6:00pm
Where: Duluth City Hall
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/1135501636847333
Advocates point to the failure of the federal leadership to end homelessness and invest in housing, and say bold local action is needed to save lives. They are calling for the city and county to commit to four steps to address the crisis: 1.) An immediate end to evictions of homeless camps until warming centers open; 2.) Fund warming centers 24 hours/day; 3.) Increase access to hygiene facilities year round; and 4.) Multi-million dollar annual investment of supportive and low-income housing development.
Donations of tents, sleeping bags, coats, gloves, hand warmers and other items needed to keep people safe in cold temperatures will be accepted at the event.
Snapshot of a crisis:
More than 1300 households in Duluth are currently on a priority wait list for housing because they are homeless.
A federally mandated count found an 18% increase in homelessness in St Louis County from 2019 to 2020, driven largely by people who are not in shelter but living outside, in cars or in buildings not fit for human habitation.
Outreach workers estimate that at least 250 Duluthians sleep outside every night -- numbers that far exceed available shelter beds.
Nearly 2,000 people spent some nights in shelter last year.
The vast majority of homeless people live precariously by couch surfing and doubling up with friends or family, often unsure where they will sleep the next night.
Average rent in Duluth has skyrocketed -- for a one bedroom from $660 in 2010 to $937 in 2019. Even before the pandemic, 55% of Duluth renters paid more than they could afford in rent. Today unknown hundreds of Duluth households are behind on rent and mortgage payments because of COVID-19 and could face eviction at the end of the year.
Sources: Coordinated Entry; City of Duluth Housing Indicator Report 2019; Minnesota Housing Partnership; American Community Survey