The first of its kind in a Minnesota suburb, a homeless shelter for youth in the City of Brooklyn Park, will open tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 31) during an open house to celebrate the achievement. Brooklyn Park and the surrounding northwest suburbs referred to as the “African Suburb” is home to the largest concentration of African immigrants in the state that are homeowners.
Called Brooklyn Avenues, it is a 12-bed, short-term shelter and transition housing program, for teens aged 16 through 20. The Minneapolis nonprofit, Avenues for Homeless Youth, will run the shelter built by the City of Brooklyn Park through its Economic Development Authority at a cost of $950,000. The City will lease it to Avenues for $1.
The grand opening ceremony on Saturday will be open to the public in the form of an open house that will run from 1-4pm.
According to the renowned Wilder Research in Saint Paul, more than 4,000 youth are homeless and living alone in Minnesota on any one given night. The homelessness situation in the northwest suburbs has been aggravated in the last few years with the foreclosure crisis that has seen families lose their homes and therefore compounding the problem for teenagers. Brooklyn Park is a minority-majority city with many African immigrants there owning their homes but also affected greatly with the foreclosure crisis.
The Republican mayor of Brooklyn Park, Jeff Lunde and Congressman Keith Ellison during a speech at the annual Avenues for Homeless Youth Benefit Breakfast in North Minneapolis last May spoke of the unique challenges homeless youth present to the city. “Our police have been pressing us in the city Council to do something about it,” Lunde said. He said at the time when completed it will be one of his proudest achievements.
The building is located across the street from the Brooklyn Park Target store. The average stay for a teenager is expected to be three to six months.
Two Africans sit on the board of Avenues for Homeless Youth, Kojo Baafi as the board treasurer and Godson Sowah as Secretary to the board. Sowah last year took over as Mshale’s African Awards Judges’ panel chairman.
Avenues for Homeless Youth Open House
Date: January 31, 2015
Address: 7210 76th Avenue N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
Parking: Target lot in spots facing W. Broadway Ave
About Tom Gitaa Gitaa
Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.
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