There has been concern raised by neighbors regarding a couple of semi-permanent, homeless “encampments” along the freeway. We asked David Jeffries from St. Stephen’s Human Services what is the best way to help the people living in vulnerable situations and here was his response:
If you see people experiencing homelessness who are living outside, please call the City of Minneapolis’ 311 number to let the City know that there is a homeless person who appears to need services. You should be able to let them know where the person is, what he or she is wearing, what condition he or she seems to be in, and whether it is an emergency. If you feel that someone is in immediate danger, always call 911.
The city will alert St. Stephen’s Street Outreach Team or other appropriate services. St. Stephen’s Street Outreach team finds people experiencing homelessness by going to isolated industrial areas, encampments under freeway overpasses, and in the woods along the Mississippi River. Six days a week, the Street Outreach team canvasses 80 blocks of downtown Minneapolis, interacting with people in crisis and meeting immediate basic needs for safety and survival outside. The team develops a relationship of trust with people, learning their names and checking back on them frequently to offer services and support in obtaining dignified housing.
Each person’s journey from the streets into permanent housing is different, depending on their situation and how long it takes for them to accept assistance. Some individuals are difficult to locate from one day to the next. Many suffer from severe and persistent mental illness or recurrent substance use. Despite these challenges, St. Stephen’s Street Outreach team never gives up, connecting our city’s most vulnerable residents with safe, secure housing. The entire process can take weeks, months or even years.
Each of us must make our own decisions about whom to help and how. St. Stephen’s offers a variety of donation and volunteer options for those who are interested in learning more. Visit our website www.ststephensmpls.org/takeaction and follow us on Facebook where we post urgent donation needs and volunteer opportunities www.facebook.com/StStephensMpls.