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Mpls. City Council Approves Indoor Tiny House Community For Homeless

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minneapolis City Council has approved $2 million in CARES Act money for a facility that utilizes tiny homes to serve those who are experiencing homelessness. As the first snowflakes of the season started falling, that gives the OK to build 100 houses for people who otherwise don't have one.

On Friday, the city council passed the proposal for the project called Indoor Villages.

The vote moves forward a project to create a community of tiny houses will be built inside an empty warehouse in the North Loop neighborhood, offering protection from the winter cold. Unlike a tent, they're secured with locks, offering privacy and security.

When COVID-19 forced people out of shelters, out of work, and into encampments, the Twin Cities saw a problem that existed long before the pandemic. The Minneapolis City Council saw an opportunity to do something about it.

The project itself is led by Avivo, a local outreach group. It would also include drug and mental health treatment, employment help and assistance finding permanent housing.

"Our hope is people move into Indoor Villages and then move out because we've been able to help them find secure permanent housing in the community, and then we can move more folks in," Avivo's Emily Bastian said.

In August, Minneapolis City Council member Lisa Goodman said she felt compelled to help Indoor Villages come to fruition.

"It's incumbent upon us in government to embrace new ideas, to embrace ideas that can be implemented fast and in a cost-effective way," Goodman said. "Indoor tiny shelters is a new idea and we should embrace that idea because it meets our goals of getting people out of the cold, out of parks, into shelter that they're willing to go to."

Indoor Villages is a two-year pilot program. The goal is to have it up and running in November.

"It's an aggressive timeline but the goal is to move people in by the end of the year and today tells us why we need to really pursue this aggressively," Avivo CEO Kelly Matter said.

The concept of tiny homes is actually something that was inspired by a similar project in Seattle. Avivo says it has recently helped put unsheltered people into hotels, but says this feels more sustainable in part because it gives people a sense of ownership and privacy.

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