Concert highlights goal to end homelessness

St. Stephen’s donations support work toward ridding Hennepin County of homelessness.

Marissa Pherson , volunteer coordinator for St. StephenâÄôs Human Services , stood behind an information booth at The Cabooze Friday night listening to The Brass King perform and fielding questions about how to help end homelessness. The Brass King was one of six bands that played at the Concert to End Homelessness last Friday and Saturday night to raise money for St. Stephen’s, a human services agency that aims to end homelessness in Hennepin County. Ending homelessness during a nation-wide economic crisis has its road bumps, Pherson said, but will cost less to end than just to manage. Dan Ittner , men’s shelter supervisor at St. Stephen’s, said this is the third year Trampled by Turtles of Duluth, Minn. has used its connections with other musicians to organize a show to benefit St. Stephen’s. âÄúWhat’s really significant about this is that addressing the issues that face the homeless isn’t just the work of human service agencies, but it’s the work of the entire community,âÄù Ittner said.

St. Stephen’s works to end homelessness by helping homeless or struggling families and single adults obtain employment and permanent housing. Pherson said the same event last year raised around $11,000 in one night. This year the event lasted two nights, and though the total amount raised is not yet known, it is expected to be more. The donations will pay for general operating costs at St. StephenâÄôs. Pherson graduated from the University of Minnesota in December 2007 and began working for St. StephenâÄôs last November. She said she liked St. Stephen’s because the agency focuses on multiple aspects of homelessness. Pherson pointed to programs aimed at people who are currently homeless and those who are at risk of becoming homeless, as well as St. StephenâÄôs involvement with legislation, as examples.

Heading Home Hennepin

St. StephenâÄôs efforts to end homelessness coincide with those of Heading Home Hennepin , the plan to end homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County by 2016 âÄî a subset of Heading Home Minnesota . As stated on the Heading Home Hennepin website, the goal of the initiative is to provide adequate and affordable housing âÄúfor all people,âÄù as well as enact effective methods of prevention that will curtail a personâÄôs fall into homelessness. The current economic situation facing the nation and the state provides more reason to focus on ending homelessness in the area, Pherson said. Last year, St. StephenâÄôs reportedly âÄúreduced costs to governmental programsâÄù by saving shelters $3,124,521 âÄúby moving people from shelters into housing.âÄù âÄúOnce you get people into housing, their lives are more stable,âÄù Pherson said. Heading Home Minnesota produced a âÄú2009 Legislative AgendaâÄù advising legislators to maintain current spending for homeless programs and increase funding for existing subsidized housingâÄîincreasing the stateâÄôs ability to move families quickly out of shelters and into permanent housing. These initiatives will lead to lower costs associated with services often necessary to care for homeless individuals. The costs include policing, emergency care, shelters and foster care, the agenda stated. âÄúWhile providing an adequate supply of supportive housing will take longer than anticipated in light of the serious economic recession, dismantling the supportive housing created to date will only add to the growing numbersâÄîand increasing costsâÄîof homeless adults, youth and children,âÄù the agenda stated.