Temperatures are expected to climb upward of 15 degrees above average across much of Minnesota this week, with highs possibly exceeding 100 degrees Wednesday and Thursday.
Some Minnesotans face a greater challenge in escaping the heat. For people who are homeless, the temperatures can be dangerous. A nonprofit organization called The Real Minneapolis is aiming to provide relief.
Every week, volunteers from the organization deliver meals and water to those who are unhoused in Minneapolis. They deliver approximately 125 meals a day to many folks who are living in tent communities and they say typically in these conditions when it’s extremely hot, they make sure to have at least two bottles of water for each person they meet.
The organization was formed shortly after the police murder of George Floyd in 2020. Since then, the group says it has provided nearly 50,000 meals and 100,000 water bottles to people in the community with most going to those who are experiencing homelessness.
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The Real Minneapolis also drives an RV which includes an outdoor shower to help people cool off and get clean. The organization's website includes a statement that plainly says — quote: “cold water, showers and sanitation are human rights.”
Co-founder Valerie Quintana says if they see people who are overheated and need medical attention, they take them to an emergency room.
“We aren't paramedics, we aren't emergency personnel or we aren't nurses, we're just community members who are really trying to make sure that our unhoused friends are safe and are provided with basic human needs, such as water in these extreme heat conditions,” she said.
Quintana also says they also help people with housing assistance or substance use assessments, and a variety of different services like ID cards and signing up for health insurance.
She says funding is a struggle though. The nonprofit relies heavily on funding from private foundations, corporations, as well as community members. They say they’ve also had GoFundMe pages set up in the past for their youth center.
The group also takes donations electronically via apps like PayPal and Venmo and it relies on partner organizations who allow them to use their facilities for various needs.
For Quintana, this mission hits close to home. Quintana has struggled with her own experience of homelessness, battling with drug addiction and incarceration. She says having gone through this, she’s able to understand what people are going through and help in specific ways that she knows can make all the difference, whether it’s community resources or knowing where to go for specific needs.
“I'm someone who struggled with heroin addiction, with alcoholism, with homelessness, with incarceration. And so when you put those two things together, I'm able to be a conduit to the homeless community, to get resources from corporations and other resources in the community,” Quintana said.
The organization works year-round. Group members deliver blankets to people who are outside during cold temperatures and will also make sure people have access to indoor showers.
Organizers are reminding people during this heat, even just setting bottles of water down when they see someone who might need them, could make a big difference and sometimes can even save someone’s life.