A first-of-its-kind development is providing quality housing and supportive services to formerly homeless Native American teens and young adults in St. Paul, Minn.
While American Indians represent only 2% of the population in Minnesota, they disproportionately make up 22% of the homeless population. To help address the problem, nonprofit Project for Pride in Living partnered with Ain Dah Yung Center, which provides shelter and services for Native American youth who are homeless, on the 42-unit Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung.
“Ain Dah Yung Center felt that after youth turned 18, they lose support and benefits and fall back into homelessness,” says Mandy Pant, project manager for Project for Pride in Living. “They saw a need for permanent supportive housing.”
The development, which opened in November, connects the young adults with their cultural heritage. The Native-inspired design by DSGW Architects and built by Loeffler Construction & Consulting embraces the philosophy of Native communities from circular gathering spaces, totems, a healing garden, a sweat lodge, and teachings engraved on the façade of the building. Each floor also has cultural space themed after different animals, such as eagles, bears, and buffaloes. On-site staff provides services to help the residents build economic independence and a healthier future.
“For many of our residents, this is the first time they have had stable housing in many years,” says Angela Gauthier, associate director of Ain Dah Yung. “They have spent a significant amount of time in their teens and young adult life on the streets or moving place to place. It was amazing to see the reactions of the residents as they moved in and saw their apartments and the amenities offered at the building for the first time.”
Rents on 32 units are set at 30% of the area median income (AMI), while the remaining 10 are at 50% of the AMI. In addition, 22 units are earmarked for youth with mental and physical disabilities. Rental assistance is provided by four different public and private sources.
The $13.7 million development was financed primarily with low-income housing tax credits allocated by Minnesota Housing and the city of St. Paul and syndicated by National Equity Fund. Additional funding was provided by Metropolitan Council, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines through member bank Wells Fargo, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Ramsey County, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The development, which is built to Enterprise Green Communities standards, also received energy and sales tax rebates.