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Cheers to DL homeless shelter

With temperatures expected to dip into the low double digits again this weekend, we say cheers to the Detroit Lakes City Council for its blessing of a 25-bed men's homeless shelter planned for the industrial park in Detroit Lakes.

With temperatures expected to dip into the low double digits again this weekend, we say cheers to the Detroit Lakes City Council for its blessing of a 25-bed men's homeless shelter planned for the industrial park in Detroit Lakes.

And kudos to The Refuge for seeing the need and undertaking the mission. The Refuge took over the former Anishinaabe Center building in the industrial park a few years ago, and has been providing free hot meals and other services since then.

It plans to put the homeless shelter in the former Waste Management building located near The Refuge.

The face of homelessness is not what you might expect. Even before the bottom dropped out of the economy in 2008-2009, more than a quarter of the homeless in Minnesota were working full time.

From 1991 to 2000, the percentage of employed homeless adults more than doubled from 19 percent to 41 percent. The proportion working full-time rose over the same decade from 7.5 percent to 26 percent, according to the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.

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Homelessness hits young people especially hard: Those age 21 and younger made up 45 percent of all people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota the night of the last statewide survey (in 2006).

On any given night in Minnesota, between 550 and 650 unaccompanied youth in Minnesota are without permanent shelter; over the course of one year, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Minnesota unaccompanied youth experience at least one episode of homelessness.

It's happening in Detroit Lakes, as well.

  • 89 percent of homeless youth are enrolled in school.
  • 51 percent of the youth experiencing homelessness have been physically or sexually mistreated.

And this was before the Great Recession hit.
Homelessness also hits American Indians: 11 percent of homeless adults and 20 percent of homeless youth are Native American -- 10 times their numbers in the general population.

The new crisis shelter being built by Lakes Crisis Center should help women who fear homelessness -- 33 percent of homeless adults (and 45 percent of women) reported that they had stayed in an abusive relationship because they had nowhere else to live.

The cold weather is a reminder of how much the shelter is needed. Nobody should have to face the elements in Detroit Lakes in January.

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