Joel Kilgour

Deb Holman

Duluth's new warming shelter has helped keep people safe over this last, brutal stretch of deadly cold, but it's still treating a symptom, not the underlying problem.

As CHUM's street outreach worker Deb Holman told us earlier this month, some people with untreated mental health issues find the crowded, sometimes chaotic conditions in a shelter anxiety-producing and some don't like to be around other people. So even with temperatures in the teens and 20s and 30s below, some people are electing to stay outside.

Landmark

Emotions were already running high at this week's Duluth City Council meeting, where councilors were, it seemed to some, pressured into taking an immediate vote on a $6.2 million-tax increment financing package for a 15-story apartment building downtown.

The Loaves and Fishes Community, AICHO, the Duluth Branch of the NAACP and other social justice groups called on the council to table the vote until they could address the issue of affordable and low-income housing.

©Deb Holman

The Loaves and Fishes Community is a small non-profit in Duluth offering "hospitality and advocacy to people experiencing homelessness."

But Joel Kilgour, a longtime resident of the men's house and community organizer and activist, says they're turning away "probably 30 guys a day."

Perhaps the most visible faces of homelessness are those of people suffering from mental illness or addiction, but Kilgour says most of us are only one step away from living under a bridge ourselves.

Joel Kilgour of Forward Coalition visits KUMD to discuss information surrounding the group's upcoming meeting tonight at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Duluth. 

© Shawn Carr. Used with permission.

Joel Kilgour sighs.

Maybe the plan was "overly ambitious," he says.

Joel has spent the better part of the last 20 years with the Loaves and Fishes Community, working on behalf of people struggling with poverty, homelessness and "housing insecurity."

In 2007, St. Louis County launched A Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.  In 2017, the crisis of homelessness has not abated, but all is far from lost.

Lisa Johnson

Living in their car because they couldn't find a place to live. Calling all 13 dental providers who claim to take medical insurance and being turned away by all of them. Struggling with public transportation as a disabled person when bus stops aren't shoveled.

©Josie Fan

In 2007, St. Louis County and the city of Duluth came up with a ten-year plan to end homelessness.

In October, the Homelessness in Minnesota survey found over 600 people with nowhere to live.

The Loaves and Fishes community and CHUM in Duluth organized the first Housing for All Summit; now a partnership of groups county-wide puts it on every year.  Our reporter Josie Fan attended the conference ... with a stop at Loaves and Fishes on the way.

Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Project Homeless Connect just doesn't describe the attendees any more.

Joel Kilgour of the Loaves and Fishes Community says it's not just homeless folks that need help navigating the alphabet soup and red tape of local services and agencies; more and more people in poverty are in need of connection, too.

So the event returns this year with a new name and 34 agencies in one place, ready to give people a hand with everything from hair cuts to health care.

Deb Holman/CHUM Street Outreach Advocate

St. Louis County's ten-year-plan to end homelessness is in either year ten or eight ... depending on how you count the process that began in 2005 or the completed plan that was adopted in 2007.  Can we end homelessness in St. Louis County within two years?

The 3rd Annual Housing for All Community Summit took a hard look at that question last week.