Partners prepare to open temporary Navigation Center

Tribal partners to lead efforts to transition encampment residents to nearby Navigation Center 

The Red Lake Nation and Simpson Housing Services have announced their commitment to lead the temporary Navigation Center in south Minneapolis that will serve residents of the Franklin/Hiawatha Homeless encampment. It will open mid-December.  

The temporary Navigation Center at 2109 Cedar Ave. will provide a safe and service-rich environment for people who have been living at the encampment. The Red Lake Nation owns the Navigation Center site and will provide security and some of the social services at the center. The center will remain open until May 2019. After that, the Red Lake Nation is breaking ground on a new affordable housing project at the site.

Red Lake Nation is partnering with Simpson Housing Services, which will provide shelter operational support at the center. The City has worked closely with partners on the development of the center and provided funding for three large heated sprung structures that will accommodate up to 120 people.

“We are grateful to announce our involvement in the Navigation Center,” said Sam Strong of the Red Lake Nation. “With this center, we have taken a major step toward beginning to finally address the homelessness issue that has plagued our communities. It is through hard work, partnerships, and most importantly compassion, that we have gotten this far. Together as one community we can finally begin to heal our communities for the future.” 

“The efforts at the Wall have been truly remarkable and unlike any other response to the challenging issue of homeless encampments,” said Patina Park, chair of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID). “These efforts included people from all levels of government, nonprofit and for-profit, philanthropy, community members, and the general public, all of whom held the humanity of our relatives in the encampment at the forefront in all the discussions and planning. I am excited for the opportunity the Navigation Center will provide to our relatives and I look forward to the future conversations on culturally differentiated responses and long-term solutions to homelessness.”

“Opening the Navigation Center and closing the encampment will be crucial for public safety and mark an important step forward in our city’s efforts to address homelessness,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “Traditionally, municipalities have been too comfortable with stop-gap measures that perpetuate and criminalize homelessness. Thanks to the strength of our coalition along with the leadership of Red Lake Nation and all of our Native and tribal partners, we’re closer to helping many people who need it.”

“I am looking forward to the completion of the Navigation Center,” said City Council Member Abdi Warsame. “I believe it will contribute greatly in resolving many of the issues faced by people living in the homeless encampment. I also want to acknowledge the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods of Cedar-Riverside, Seward, Phillips, Little Earth and Ventura Village for their patience regarding the completion of this project.”

The Navigation Center will offer people the opportunity to regain safety and engage in supportive relationships that allow them to move forward with their lives, including developing pathways to permanent housing, income, healthcare and stability. Individualized case management services will be provided on site by partner agencies and will include traditional Native healing activities. Services will be voluntary.

To date, partners involved in outreach at the encampment have assisted more than 80 people with securing access to supportive housing. Following the opening of the Navigation Center, leaders from the Red Lake Nation and Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID), who have been providing support at the encampment site since it began, will take the lead in helping transition people from the encampment to the center or alternative locations. Coalition partners (listed below) are committed to collaborating on the transition to the Navigation Center, shifting existing encampment supports to the center, and the eventual closure of the encampment, which all partners recognize is not safe given the cold weather and other conditions. 

The City also remains committed to working with partners on long-term housing solutions, including developing recommendations for housing geared toward Native Americans experiencing chronic homelessness.

Coalition partners

The City has worked closely with several partners on outreach at the encampment and development of the Navigation Center, including the Red Lake Nation, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, Simpson Housing Services, Hennepin County, State of Minnesota and several other community organizations. 



Published Dec 6, 2018



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