11 Snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

Thank you to Monica Nilsson for continuing to shine a light on people experiencing homelessness. Last night Monica spent the night documenting life without a home in the Twin Cities. It was 30 degrees below zero last night. While most of us screeched at the thought of running to the car – Monica met people sleeping in train stations, trains and transit stops.

What can you do to help?

  • Please ask your legislator to support the Homes for All Coalition ask of $15 million for the Emergency Services Program this legislative session. The current budget for the entire state is $844,000 for shelter and crisis services. (Find your reps.)
  • Call your elected officials at each level of government, asking how they are a part of making sure that people have access to shelter you around?
  • Donate time or money – find a cause that touches your heart at Volunteer Match or Hands On Twin Cities
  • Contact Monica with any questions or ideas monicamnilsson@gmail.com

Here are the stories:

  1. 4:12am Union Depot, St. Paul: overflow shelter at Union Depot in closes
  2. 2:27am Mall of America: The safest place for a lady
  3. 2:30am Mall of America: The apple of your eye
  4. 3:02am Mall of America: Warm thoughts
  5. 4:07am Union Depot, St. Paul: Social worker with a badge and gun
  6. 4:18am Union Depot, St. Paul: The Gray Hairs
  7. 4:19am Union Depot, St. Paul: Minnesota’s workforce
  8. 3:30am Hilton Hotel, Minneapolis: Young, pregnant and schizophrenic
  9. 5:02am Twin Cities Metro Transit light rail: The Winter Carnival Prince
  10. 1:50pm Sunray Shopping Center, St. Paul: The cost of suffering
  11. 5am the floor: No More Heroes

5am the floor – No More Heroes: 11 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

We have a culture of charity that normalizes destitution and legitimates personal generosity as a response to major social and economic dislocation. Of course, when food, housing and other basic needs become a gift instead of a right, they are subject to all of the prejudices of the generous. The gift can be taken back from those who are not deserving or grateful enough.

-from the book No More Heroes

The story is not the helpers or givers

1:50pm Shopping St. Paul – The cost of suffering: 10 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

It was hard to get any sleep in the Union Depot on the last night they were open. Cub Foods staff are nice and lets him warm up many days. The cost of being without shelter is not only felt in the heart and mind. His dream is to buy a few acres and build a log cabin.

5:02am Twin Cities Metro Transit light rail – The Winter Carnival Prince: 9 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

“I was born and raised in St. Paul”, he said with pride. “I was a basketball champ and Winter Carnival Prince.”

I told him not to remove the roof over his head just to talk to me. Even on the trains, it’s cold.

Support emergency shelter for every Minnesotan

3:30am Hilton Hotel, Minneapolis young, pregnant and schizophrenic: 8 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

I was picking up staff from CBS News at 3:30am at the Hilton next to WCCO in Minneapolis. This young lady was walking down the street seeking warmth. Someone had given her a hotel room key, tempting. She rode with us to St. Paul.
Bootstraps? nope
Family? nope
We have a choice, wrap her like a blanket in help or not.

4:19am Union Depot, St. Paul Minnesota’s workforce: 7 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

A homeless Amazon worker once told me, “It’s not that you can’t get a job, it’s that you can’t keep one because you keep falling asleep or getting sick.”

4:18am Union Depot, St. Paul The Gray Hairs: 6 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

Get a job, go home and listen to your parents, quit drinking…
what is it that we’re supposed to say to the gray hairs who are sleeping on a terrazzo floor, often with canes, walkers and a bag of medicine nearby?

Please support the Homes for All Coalition’s legislative budget, including $15 million for emergency services.