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.

4:07am Union Depot, St. Paul Social worker with a badge and gun: 5 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

Despite people equating homeless with criminal, many homeless people seek areas in which law enforcement are present. Homeless people are far more often prey than predator. I am grateful for the kindness I witnessed by law enforcement. However, do you believe the best use of skilled protectors is to pass out mittens and granola bars, sometimes en masse, because we don’t plan to shelter people rather create a pop-up when someone deems need? How much did the contents of these photos cost for one night?

3:02am Mall of America Warm thoughts: 4 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

At least that’s what her hat said. Every bench was a bed at the Mall of America, some shared. The polar vortex is over so MOA will return to closing the transit center at 2am to clear the homeless dwellers.

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.

2:30am Mall of America The apple of your eye: 3 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

Her husband died long ago but she still wears the ring. Her bible is her companion now.

The opened pages read, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from the deadly enemies who surround me.”

She’ll stay awake at night to protect herself and sleep during the day on the light rail trains. You won’t notice her if she’s not near her cart. She’s pretty.

2:27am Mall of America The safest place for a lady: 2 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

People will say, “but there were free Lyft rides and warming centers and I saw it all over social media”. Does she look like she’s tuned into Facebook? Which nights were those warming centers open and which hours? How far is the walk in the morning when they close? When you can’t rely on a stable place, you find the safest place you can.

The Mall of America left its transit center open last night but the Polar Vortex ended today. Shelters are full for women so the safest place for a lady is where men can’t go.

4:12 am Union Depot, St. Paul: 1 of 11 snapshots of a cold night on the streets in MN

I’ve never seen anything like it-and I’ve been in this work 25 years. At first glance, it looked like those horrific images from the television news-but in this case, they’re all alive.

The polar vortex is over. The overflow shelter at Union Depot in St. Paul closed today.

There’s a problem when we believe people deserve the safety of shelter only at certain temperatures. Where are they tonight, you ask?


Will you hear me? A Night on the Trains with Monica Nilsson, Mitra Jalali Nelson and Angela Conley

A more reflective post may follow, but for today I wanted to archive Monica Nilsson’s trip with St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson and Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley on an overnight train ride through the Twin Cities, where many, if not most of their fellow transit riders were spending a homeless night in place that is warm. It may not be safe, it may not be comfortable, it may not be restful but on January 5 in Minnesota, warm is something.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) wrote about the trip. Mitra and Angela both posted impassioned videos about her time on the train. People are starting to listen.

Will you hear me? Originally posted by Monica Nilsson on Facebook

Some people say nighttime prayers before they go to bed. Some people pray before they go to sleep, bed if you’re lucky. Some wonder if anyone is listening. I’m grateful that St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson, Hennepin County Commissioner-Elect Angela Conley and the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres were willing to spend time overnight on the trains to listen. Metro Transit Police estimate 300 people seek shelter each night as shelters in the region are full-with Metro Transit’s Homeless Assistance Team Sgt. Brooke Blakey.

Following so much attention after homeless encampments formed in St. Paul and Minneapolis last fall, people without shelter wonder if new encampments must form this spring in order to be seen and get help. An equal number of people were riding the trains as created an encampment along Hiawatha Avenue. They’re still seeking safety as they close their eyes on the trains. Hiawatha is sheltered. A regional response is necessary and I am grateful that Hennepin County Commissioner-Elect Angela Conley and St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson, along with the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres, were willing to cross borders overnight, as people in need do, to see what most don’t.

Hennepin County’s most recent one night count of unsheltered people found 523 adults. Heading Home Minnesota’s 2018 one night count found 1066, a 40% increase from 2014. I hope other people with different kinds of power will follow Hennepin County Commissioner-Elect Angela Conley and St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson along with the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres in standing in the midst of suffering as they did overnight. A sober invitation but I’m quite sure a transformative one. You can contact me at monicanilsson2016@gmail.com and I’ll walk with you.

Please see those who are without shelter, hear them or their advocates when you can’t see them and believe that they are out there, walk your feet to the center of the issue and help. We need you. This fall, the SAFE Group: Sheltering All Facing Endangerment and the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, proposed a $15 million dollar ask to our state legislature this year for Emergency Services Grant program funding. The budget has been $844,000 for the entire state for years. The good news is the Homes for All Coalition has adopted this proposal. Join us in the coming months as we advocate at not only the state level but the county and city levels to see that people have a safe place to close their eyes. Thank you to Hennepin County Commissioner-Elect Angela Conley, St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson along with the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres for helping build public awareness one step at a time.

Thank you to St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson and Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley for joining unsheltered Twin Cities residents in losing sleep overnight. I’m also grateful that Ramsey County Commissioner Trista Matascastillo, State Representative Aisha Gomez and former State Rep. Erin Murphy reached out to see more with your own eyes. A regional response is needed to addressing people without shelter and you are beginning that effort with action.

Healthcare is the bootstrap that helps people who are homeless

The following video contains photos from the Mall of America and the light rail overnight, along with my (Monica Nilsson’s) testimony at a late night Capitol hearing.

The Minnesota Legislature is considering refusing Medical Assistance to low income Minnesotans based on their employment status. Enrollees, most of whom are already working and make less than $16,642​ a ​year, would be required to work or volunteer 20 hours a week and report their activity. If this activity does not occur each month, or the new administrative system does not properly report it, the state would cut them from healthcare, causing a cascade of painful unintended consequences. Here is why I join hospitals and 100 other entities in opposing HF3722 and SF3611. It advanced in committee last week despite hours of testimony in opposition and will be heard again Wednesday, March 28th at 7pm in the House Health and Human Services Finance committee.

Homelessness in Minneapolis: A Mayoral Candidate Forum Sep 26

When: Tuesday, Sept. 26
7–8:30 p.m. (doors at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: First Universalist Church of Mpls
3400 Dupont Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

First Universalist Church, with assistance from the League of Women Voters, will host a forum for Minneapolis mayoral candidates focusing on issues of homelessness on Tuesday, Sept. 26 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Moderated by Monica Nilsson, a local advocate for the homeless, the forum will address the presence of homeless individuals in the community, sleeping in public, community livability, access to shelter, and interaction with resources.

Candidates will be encouraged to demonstrate a depth of knowledge that shows their ability to be a leader in multi-agency efforts to address homelessness.

The Star Tribune has reported that the 3,125 homeless people identified in Minneapolis this year represent an overall increase in homelessness by 231 people over the last 10 years. How did this happen, despite significantly  intensified efforts to combat homelessness?

The Office to End Homelessness reports that the number of persons identified as chronically homeless in Minneapolis dropped from 919 in 2009 to 360 in 2016. What issues are at the base of chronicity and how should they be addressed?

What considerations are most important to the mayor’s leadership role in addressing homelessness?

Co-Sponsors: First Universalist Church, Street Voices of Change in collaboration with the Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness, BEACON Interfaith Housing Collaborative, Simpson Housing Services, The SAFE Group, Peace House Community, Our Saviour’s Housing, St. Stephen’s Human Services, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, and Hats for the Homeless.

Community forum on Dakota County shelter for single adults

Moving forward
Easing homelessness in Dakota County
Community Forum
Thursday, August 10, 2017, 6:30pm-8:00pm

Shepherd of the Valley, Lutheran Church —Sanctuary
12650 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley

Have you heard the good news? The Dakota County Emergency Shelter Project is moving forward to help those in our community experiencing homelessness. On average, 50 people seeking shelter are turned away nightly in Dakota County. Thanks to host churches and the broader community, last winter 78 people were served in the Emergency Shelter project.

As a result of these efforts, we as a community have heightened the political and public awareness for those experiencing homelessness in Dakota County. The county is now beginning a planning process to provide a framework to create and operate permanent emergency shelter for a long term solution.

Please join us to learn about plans to open a temporary/rotational shelter by November 1, 2017, identify temporary sites to shelter up to 50 people per night in the coming winter and find a stable site for the future. Together we can provide the resources and support needed to serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness.