Ending Homelessness, Creating Community

Earlier this year I had the chance to help Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation tell a couple success stories from their past year for their 2011 Annual Report. PCNF does incredible work providing housing to a wide range of at-risk populations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience spending time with some of their clients, as well as those who serve the underserved.

Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation 2011 Annual Report – Images by Chris Bohnhoff

Story one was a new mixed use building housing 40 or so young people transitioning out of either foster care or homeless situations. I really had no idea what to expect, but what I found were people at ease and empowered, taking control of their lives after coming out of difficult circumstances. On-site job coaches talked of dedicated kids, and the residents who let me in to their rooms obviously took great care of their spaces.

Story two was a building that PCNF took over last year and completely renovated, serving low income adults. I spent the morning with one resident who had just moved in to a unit a couple months earlier, after a number of years with no permanent address. He still had plenty to work out when we talked, but imagine the stress lifting from your shoulders, knowing that you have a safe place to stay.

At the adult residence I also got to spend some time with the building manager, a woman with a history in law enforcement, who is the resident fixer-of-all-problems in her current role. So fun to talk to people who love their jobs: as we toured the building and she pointed out all the improvements that had been made, person after person stopped us to get her help on transportation issues, government agency red tape questions, building things. . . all kinds of stuff. It seemed like an exhausting position. But she told us, ‘I love my job. I can’t walk down the hall without meeting someone I can help. How many people can say that?’

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