Helping One Household at a Time

Roughly 1,600 homeless people live in Ramsey County alone. The magnitude of homelessness is so great that we often accept it because facing the problems and questions that homelessness presents can be overwhelming. Personally, I know I have walked by homeless people and thought, what can I do? Or tried to avoid eye contact because the pain is too real, and the solutions too obscure. How can we solve such a problem?

Well, if you ask Jim Anderson he is quick to tell you, “how can we not.” Jim works as a low income and homeless planner and with immigration services for Ramsey County. His excitement and commitment to ending homelessness, “one household at a time,” has the power to motivate people and create solutions.

One solution that Jim is currently invested in is Project Homeless Connect, which he serves as Chair. Project Homeless Connect is part of a nationwide effort that began in San Francisco in 2004. It is a one-day event that will be held on June 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the RiverCenter in St. Paul. Its website defines Project Homeless Connect as “a one-stop shop model of delivering services to people experiencing homelessness in our community.” It is a highly organized and effective event where trained volunteers gage each person’s individual needs and supply on the spot support. This is imperative to the success of the project because, as Jim explains, “one size does not fit all.” Some people come in with severe needs like housing or coping with a disability, and others just need temporary assistance or someone to talk to.

The project is armed with services and professionals who are well equipped to deal with a full spectrum of problems. There are employment, legal and veterans services; doctors who supply medical and mental health care; even volunteers who cut hair. Last year it was able to help nearly 1,000 people. The project packs the event with many services and still remains dedicated to each individual’s needs.

Not only does Project Homeless Connect provide services to people and families experiencing homelessness, it also raises awareness, and strengthens the community as people in need come together with people who are willing to help. Although the project is held on one day, it is a culminations of work and represents the constant commitment to the “community wide effort to end homelessness,” as Jim says. He emphasizes this pledge by saying, “We are carrying out what we are preaching, and committed to solving homelessness one house hold at a time.”

The idea of “one household at a time” and the aptitude to provide so many services in one day struck me. It transcended my thoughts to the solutions of homelessness from being so obscure and overwhelming to attainable. It also made me realize that making something a priority is what gives way to change.

Project Homeless Connect - Minneapolis/Hennepin County
c/o Family Housing Fund
801 Nicollet Mall, Suite 1650
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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