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Tackling homelessness and affordable housing

It's a big problem, but not a new one. Mayor Kim Norton has made it a point to address the issue but community members at Hope Summit Christian Church got together to talk about ways to help out.

Posted: May 10, 2019 12:43 AM
Updated: May 10, 2019 12:45 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - 

While the brutal Minnesota winter might be over, homeless people are still taking to the skyways to sleep tonight like Bobby Sonnenberg. 

"There's a lot of people that go through the subways and the skyway and they see us and they turn their head up like we don't exist, like they don't want to acknowledge that we're there," Sonnenberg said. 

He wonders why people can't imagine themselves in his place. 

"It's like how can you judge us when this could be happening to you? It's just a split decision or something could happen and you got no place to go," Sonnenberg said. 

This is why Steve Frazee - the director of a non-profit says caring is the first step. 

"To be able to offer options to them that they've figured out the best thing they can have right now," Frazee said. "What we want to try to do is try to find as a community to find something better that they will like so we can help them become a member of our community." 

Frazee says showing that we care will create understanding and move us closer to a solution.

"We want to try to help them to believe that we have a community that provides them even better things," Frazee said. "For a lot of their life they have experience that it doesn't include that for them."

This is what sonnenberg hopes for and what he needs you to hear.

"Just acknowledge us," Sonnenberg said. "Just tell us you are here for us. You are thinking about us or praying about us or something to acknowledge that we're here, that we're normal human beings." 

The event was organized by the Landing MN, Inc, which is a new non-profit. 

There are a lot of things that contribute to homelessness. But a big one in Rochester is the lack of affordable housing in the area. The Coalition for Rochester Area Housing is a private-public partnership. The group announced it would approve more than 2 million dollars for four affordable housing projects. It'll go to places like the Zumbro Ridge Estates and Center City Housing. 

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