So where does a person experiencing homelessness put their belongings during the day?

This is a common question…and a really good one. Imagine finding out that you needed to leave your home and everything that you could bring needed to fit into a backpack that you would then carry around with you throughout your day.

Cynthia, who is now housed through the Simpson Single Adult Rental Assistance (SARA) Program, spoke about this: “I never slept under a bridge, but I do remember sleeping on a porch of an abandoned house in south Minneapolis and hiding my stuff in the bushes. Once I woke up and everything was gone; it had been stolen. It was bad, but I didn’t have it as bad as some. I’m so thankful that I found the Simpson Women’s Shelter. It was a place to sleep, to call home, but it was also a place to put my things during the day.

Earlier this week we received a call from a man who was desperately hoping to win a bed at the upcoming lottery at the men’s shelter. His first question, even before he asked where he was going to sleep? “Where am I going to put my stuff during the day?” He had recently gotten a job and didn’t want to bring all of his belongings into his new workplace. It’s a dilemmna.

The Twin Cities Homeless Locker Project is helping. Architecture for Humanity Minnesota (AFH MN), a chapter of Architecture for Humanity International (AFH), is a group of local designers who volunteer their time and talents to provide architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and bring design services to communities in need. Since its founding in January 2005, AFH MN has provided design services for community centers, schools, and a memorial garden in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Minnesota.
For the first time, AFH MN is taking on its own design-build project, the Twin Cities Homeless Locker Project, to address the needs of homeless individuals to have a secure storage location for personal belongings that they can access as needed. AFH MN and The American Institute of Architects Minnesota Housing Advocacy Committee teamed up through the Search for Shelter workshop in February 2008 to design the lockers. The first site in the Twin Cities for the installation of 20-30 lockers will be at Simpson Housing Services in Minneapolis.

AFH MN is now raising funds to build this set of lockers and for a second set in a future location in St. Paul. Members of AFH MN will join homeless individuals to build and install the lockers at Simpson this fall. They are asking for your contribution to this well-needed local project through sponsorship of one locker ($100), attending our fundraiser ($10 at door), or a general contribution of any amount. We look forward to seeing you on September 12th at the Bedlam Theatre for an evening of music, a silent auction, and drinks/conversation with people making a difference in our community!

Donations will be channeled through AFH, a 501(c)(3). All contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations. Please make checks payable to Architecture for Humanity and send them to: Jeffrey Swainhart, 4136 Longfellow Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407.
For more information about AFH MN and the fundraiser: www.afh-mn.org
For more information about AFH: www.architectureforhumanity.org

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