Sunday, January 19, 2014

Community Donation Drive February 1st

The Duluth chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and the Street Outreach Team are partnering to collect donations for people experiencing homelessness this winter.

Drop off donations on February 1st 9am-4pm at one of the following locations:
  • Concordia Lutheran Church (2501 Woodland Ave)
  • Thrivent Financial (629 W Central Ent)
  • Salvation Army (215 S 27th Ave W)
  • Dorothy Day House (1712 Jefferson St)
Please only donate the following items (new or gently used):
  • 2-person tents and tarps
  • warm sleeping bags and waterproof blankets
  • adult winter boots
  • personal first aid and sewing kits
  • bus passes and gas gards
  • solar or crank flashlights and candles

Monday, January 13, 2014

Duluth City Council unanimously adopts homeless bill of rights!

In its very first policy vote of the new year, the Duluth City Council has unanimously adopted our Homeless Bill of Rights resolution! More than 100 people packed the council chambers to witness the historic vote.

This was a resolution of intent, and sets the stage for the development of an ordinance, as well as directing the city's Human Rights Commission to focus on housing and homelessness issues. The Commission reports directly to the City Council. We have a lot of work to do, but this is a great start! We will keep you posted!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Support a Duluth Homeless Bill of Rights

In September of 2013, a group of homeless campers came together to talk about the threatened eviction of their camp under I-35. Many of them had been moved from other camps by Duluth police and told to relocate under the bridge, with a promise that they would be safe there.

A few disturbing realities kept coming up in the meeting.

For one, Duluth is experiencing a housing crisis. Shelters are at capacity, and many people are not able to stay there because of behavioral problems, anxiety, not wanting to be separated from loved ones or pets or violating shelter rules. Low cost permanent housing, especially for people with high barriers like felony convictions and mental illness, can take months or years to secure.

Secondly, people experiencing homelessness feel like criminals in their own city. Whether intended or not, they are routinely victim to profiling and discrimination. They are asked to leave park benches, come home to find their belongings ransacked, treated suspiciously in stores, harassed by security guards, and violently attacked without feeling that they will ever get justice. And they don't feel like they have a voice in decisions that affect their lives.

In response, a group of people experiencing homelessness, advocates, and city and county officials began meeting weekly to brainstorm a community response to the homeless crisis. The first order of business is to make sure all people in Duluth are treated fairly and given a voice in their own decisions.

On January 13th, the Duluth City Council will vote on an resolution of intent calling for the creation of a Homeless Bill of Rights and city Commission to End Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty. The Bill of Rights will write into law legal protections for people experiencing homelessness, including the right to move and rest freely in public spaces. The Commission will give a permanent voice to poor people in city policy decisions.
Duluth Homeless Memorial 2013. Photo: Deb Holman

What you can do:

1. Sign the online petition Then share the petition with friends by email and social networks.

2. Ask your church, business or organization to endorse the petition. Contact Loaves & Fishes at with endorsements.

3. Call your city councilor and politely ask them to support the Homeless Bill of Rights and Commission to End Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty. Remind them that there are homeless and poor people in every council district, and that everyone in our community deserves respect and a voice in policy decisions. You can find their information here.

4. Attend the Duluth City Council meeting on January 13 to show your support. Gather at 6:30pm inside City Hall.

Freezing Temps = Danger for Homeless

With another round of dangerously cold temperatures predicted for the region, the Duluth Street Outreach Team is asking the community to help ensure the safety of people experiencing homelessness.

If you are homeless or have tips on locations of people living outside, in vehicles or in unheated buildings, PLEASE contact the street outreach hotline. Outreach workers will assist people in finding warm places to sleep.
Street Outreach 24-hour hotline: 218-461-8505
Winter home for six people near downtown. Photo: Deb Holman
In recent weeks, several homeless Duluthians have suffered serious frostbite that may require amputation. The Outreach Team stresses that overnight temperatures are extremely dangerous and recommends that no-one attempt to sleep outside in these conditions.
The Street Outreach Team is also in need of warm winter boots (all adult sizes); hand and foot warmers; solar or crank flashlights; bus passes and gas cards. Donations can be left at CHUM (102 W 2nd Street) from 9-4:30pm Monday-Friday, or Loaves & Fishes (1712 Jefferson Street) from 9am-9pm every day. For questions about donations, contact Joel Kilgour (Loaves & Fishes) at 218-340-4356 or Deb Holman (CHUM/HDC) at 218-260-7573.