A new center opened Wednesday in Duluth to provide badly needed housing for homeless American Indian families.
According to the downtown facility's owners, the American Indian Community Housing Organization, about 30 percent of Duluth's homeless population is Native American, even though they make up only 3 percent of the general population. And about half of American Indians in Duluth live in poverty.
"This project is trying to address a systemic disparity. And I think we all know this one project is not a complete solution," said Maria Danz, who helped raise funding for the project.
Danz said over 100 applications were submitted for the project's 29 housing units. Residents will also be eligible for counseling and support services.
The $6 million project was funded by over 20 organizations, said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal. About half came from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.
"It's a real milestone for the tribes to come together around a single project," Tingerthal said. "Many of the tribes have their own housing projects that they support and they develop, but this is one they've really done together."
The center is the first in the nation that combines permanent supportive housing with an American Indian community center.