Dakota County Crisis Shelter and the mobile home park outside

We found on the second day of operating a temporary crisis shelter in Dakota County that 30% of our shelter guests were sleeping in a mobile home before they came to us. Not that kind of mobile home, this kind.moinca-3

While this photo may look unremarkable, it’s 4 am, not early Wednesday evening before a church meeting.

As I stood in the parking lot of Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, I saw a remarkable congregation. The one that gathers on Sunday has been the underpinning of this shelter’s existence but its this gathering of vehicles, those mobile homes for each of their owners the night before they arrived, that struck me. In my 20+ years of working with people experiencing homelessness, I always knew of people sleeping in their cars. However, it wasn’t until sheltering occurred in the suburbs, where the sprawl of a surface parking lot allows for congregating, that I can see what I can’t see in the urban core, the steady growth of a mobile home park.

Concerned supporters created a go fund me page to try to advance this effort beyond one week. We are due to move to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville Monday, Dec. 18 until Friday, Dec. 22. I wonder if there will be room at an Inn on Christmas weekend somewhere or if I will be telling the now 24 people, a 50% increase from the 16 guests 24 hours ago, who are sleeping in the room next to me, that they must return to their mobile homes.

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