Duluth community members advocate to end homelessness | www.WDIO.com

Duluth community members advocate to end homelessness

Ryan Juntti
Updated: October 27, 2020 07:55 AM

Homelessness continues to be a problem across the country, and in the Northland. On Monday, a group of Duluth community members advocated to end the problem.

Members of the American Indian Movement-Twin Ports, Loaves and Fishes Community, and other concerned Duluthians held a vigil, sang songs, and called into the Duluth City Council meeting on Monday night, all with the goal of ending homelessness.

For American Indian Movement-Twin Ports member Kassie Standingbear Helgerson, the issue of homelessness hits home.

"I was homeless here myself for ten years on these streets with nothing. I didn't even have a tent, so I know what it's like," said Standingbear Helgerson.

Now she and other advocates are calling on the City of Duluth and St. Louis County to end evictions of homeless camps until warming centers open, fund the centers 24 hours/day, increase access to hygiene facilities year-round, and invest in low-income housing developments.

"Make this known as a real issue that we won't be a city that just leaves our folks out here to die, but a city that's going to care for our most vulnerable, and a city that will stand for what is right," said Loaves and Fishes member Shelly Bruecken.

To help get their message across, they pitched around 30 tents outside of Duluth City Hall to represent the growing number of Duluthians sleeping outside in sub-zero temperatures.

Some advocates including Standingbear Helgerson plan to stay there overnight until Tuesday morning's St. Louis County Board meeting.

She and the American Indian Movement-Twin Ports are also putting together a proposal to what they hope is a permanent solution to end homelessness.

"We want to build yurts, and house some of these people," said Standingbear Helgerson.

Advocates want it to be known that homelessness is something that can happen to anyone.

"A lot of us are one paycheck away, and there's just a variety of folks that can experience homelessness. It's not just a certain group of people, and it's really important we stop characterizing people and just start helping them," said Bruecken.

Bruecken encourages Duluthians to reach out to the city as well as councilors to further advocate for the cause.


Ryan Juntti

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