FILE - Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis

(The Center Square) – The Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted to spend nearly $2 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) money to house the homeless.

The council passed the proposal for the project dubbed Indoor Villages, which will be operated by Avivo, a company that offers treatment, recovery and employment services.

There were as many as 500 tents in Powderhorn Park this summer, but law-enforcement evicted the campers after the occurence of multiple shootings.

The city wants to provide homeless housing as the temperature drops, and the two-year pilot program of Indoor Villages is one solution.

The Indoor Villages project will create 100 tiny secure, houses within a larger indoor climate-controlled space such as a warehouse, Emily Bastian, Avivo’s vice president of ending homelessness, told The Center Square.

The building will have office space attached for service providers, including case management officials to assist with finding housing; provide treatment for chemical-dependency and mental health support; as well as provide employment and career training; and offer medical care.

The homes are about the size of a parking space.

The project will be funded by private and public sources.

“Unsheltered homelessness isn’t new, but it’s something that’s really becoming more visible,” Bastian said. “Minneapolis has been so creative and supportive of finding yet another way to add to the continuum of services available to individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”

Bastian said homelessness has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest.

Mayor Jacob Frey applauded the program in a Thursday tweet.

“Tomorrow Council will vote on our Indoor Villages model. It would bring 100 tiny shelters w/i a larger space – one that affords dignity, allows for social distancing, and includes essential services + a pathway to permanent housing for our most vulnerable neighbors.”

“Unsheltered homelessness is a worsening crisis, and we can’t leave any option off the table. Thanks to Council Member Lisa Goodman @MplsWard7 for championing this important work and all our County, State, non-profit, and philanthropic partners.”

The goal is to have the program up and running by December 31, 2020.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.