News from the Downtown Alliance
October 25, 2018
A note from the president
Hi Friends,

I want to congratulate Mayor Carter, Ackerberg Group, and all of the staff who worked so hard to put together the Public Safety Annex redevelopment proposal that passed yesterday at the City Council and HRA meetings . In addition to adding retail and office space downtown, these investments in a public park will be a fantastic addition for the immediate neighborhood, and Pedro will take its place among downtown’s many phenomenal parks.
The main thrust of our newsletter this week is about something that is a concern for many of us in downtown. Cities across the country are facing a significant increase in people experiencing homelessness. Last week, community leaders announced that a temporary, overnight shelter, the Winter Safe Space, would open for a second season in downtown Saint Paul. As the number of people in our community experiencing homelessness continues to rise, I am grateful for the leadership of the city, county and community and philanthropic organizations which are making this temporary respite available for a second winter. One person, who has been showing exceptional leadership on this particular topic is Councilmember Noecker, who I invited to give us an update on the issue of homelessness in our community and the work that’s being done to end it. Read on below, and as the temperatures turn colder, I encourage you to find ways you can support your neighbors in need. 

See you all around (down)town,

Joe Spencer
Saint Paul Downtown Alliance
A note on homelessness from Councilmember Rebecca Noecker
As we work to create a green, clean and safe downtown, we must confront head-on the problem of homelessness.

Homelessness is on the rise in Saint Paul and in cities across the country. Incomes have stagnated since the millennium while rents have skyrocketed. In Saint Paul’s current housing market, with a 2.4% vacancy rate, finding a place to live is difficult for everyone - and nearly impossible for those with a checkered rental history, a criminal background or mental illness.

As a result, we’re seeing a steep rise in “unsheltered” homelessness, in which people literally have nowhere to go. Ramsey County saw a 22% increase in unsheltered homeless people between 2016 and 2017, and more than 250 people are sleeping on Metro Transit trains each night. Despite the recent addition of Higher Ground Saint Paul, the need for shelter far exceeds the supply.

This situation is unsafe and inhumane for our most vulnerable residents. While all are welcome on our parks, trains, buses and skyways, no one should have to make these places their home. 

A coalition of 15 government, business, nonprofit and philanthropic partners called “Outside-In” has come together to address the problem. Outside-In has hired full-time street outreach workers to help people find housing as soon as possible; created the Winter Safe Space - an emergency winter shelter for people otherwise sleeping on trains and in skyways, which will open on November 1; and successfully housed 94 of the top 150 users of shelter through a corollary effort called RUSH (Redirecting Users of Shelter to Housing).

Because homelessness is a regional problem, Outside-In is also working with leaders from the state, our neighboring counties and Metro Transit to develop a regional approach.

The problem of homelessness is complex and, unfortunately, there is no easy solution. But with the commitment of the Outside-In collaborative, and the concern and generosity of the Saint Paul community, we are headed in the right direction. 
Downtown Saint Paul in the news