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Seeking solutions: Duluth leaders tour Twin Cities for homelessness solutions

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 9:07 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - Last Wednesday, several of Duluth’s city leaders, business leaders, and social service agencies went to the Twin Cities to explore new solutions to homelessness.

The 14-hour bus tour around the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro brought leaders to four different sites, all touting a unique way they’ve successfully gotten people off the streets.

“The Twin Cities have their own struggles. I don’t think they’d claim to have figured it out but there’s a couple of innovative models going on right now and it was a really neat opportunity to see what’s working, what’s not working,” said City Councilor Arik Forsman, one of the leaders who attended the trip.

The trip was organized by John Cole, executive director of CHUM.

Leaders saw living accommodations that bring people off the streets but also give them more privacy.

Solutions like tiny-homes and an indoor warehouse-based housing unit give homeless people a roof over their heads and a door they can lock at the same time.

“We don’t want folks outside, we don’t want them dealing with being exposed to winter and being out in the open. We’d rather have people where they’re safe and where they can get help,” said Forsman.

Forsman said their goal now is to determine how to scale these solutions to Duluth’s level.

“Not everything that we saw on that trip is going to be a great fit here. We’re going to have to come up with something that works for our size of a city that really leverages all the money we can to help the most people,” he said.

Matt Baumgartner, President of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, also attended the tour.

He said his role is to seek solutions that benefit all different groups in Duluth.

“As an organization that is the epicenter of business, economy, and community, we’ve heard how important this issue is to try to be a part of the solution on,” said Baumgartner.

Forsman said the group will debrief on what they learned sometime this week.

Social service agencies will use that information to help develop their 5-year plan to get people off the streets of Duluth.

They haven’t identified any concrete next steps.

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