Forum on Supportive Housing Recap
by Kristin Gilbert, Congregational Organizer
Over 70 people from across Scott and Carver Counties, and the broader collaborative came together on June 26 for the Congregation Forum on Supportive Housing. Held at Cross of Peace Lutheran Church in Shakopee, those gathered came to learn how they can be part of the solution to homelessness and housing insecurity. The meeting began with opening words that grounded us in the many faith traditions that we bring to this work. We were prepared to enter the conversations of the evening with boldness, braveness, and love.
Paul Gaukstad, Campaign Action Team member and Beacon Leader from Hope Lutheran Church in Jordan shared why he cares about this work and what it means to him as a long-time resident of Scott County. We celebrated and recognized the Beacon collaborating congregations through a roll call, showing our commitment to this work and to each other, and to acknowledge that we can accomplish so much more together than we can alone! We watched a video of Tess telling her powerful story of falling into homelessness after losing her mother. Through hard work and the support of Families Moving Forward, Tess found a home for herself and her son, Zane.
Board Chair Laura Helmer moderated a panel conversation with five esteemed local community leaders:
- Lee Blons, Executive Director, Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative
- Eric Gentry, Director of Housing & Emergency Services, Community Action Partnership of Scott-Carver-Dakota Counties; Local Lead, Suburban Metro Continuum of Care for Scott & Carver Counties
- Pam Selvig, Director, Scott County Health & Human Services
- Luke Hennen, Scott County Sheriff
- Tamara Severtson, Mission Integration Manager, St. Francis Regional Medical Center
Through powerful stories, the leaders shared how homelessness and housing insecurity show up in their work, how it impacts the community, the extent of the problem, and lack of resources to address it. They also shared that although homelessness seems invisible in the area, it is growing and becoming more and more visible for those who know it’s here.
Everyone in attendance had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard with others around them. The room buzzed with energy as people shared where they’ve seen the impacts of the rise of the cost of housing in their families, congregations, and broader communities, and what was most surprising and interesting about what they’d just heard from the panelists.
Kevin Walker, Director of New Projects at Beacon shared our plan to create homes for families with supportive services in Scott County. He shared what supportive housing is, why it’s an effective and important solution to the housing crisis in Scott County, and what it will take to make it happen. Again, the energy in the room surged as participants reflected with one another on the vision that was laid out and how they felt inspired to impact homelessness in their community. With that, attendees were invited to make commitments to the actions they would take next, including:
- Take future action to make Family Supportive Housing happen in Scott County.
- Tour Beacon apartment homes to learn more.
- Attend the Congregation Convening on Sept.26, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
- Schedule a presentation for their congregation or group to learn more.
People left that evening ready to learn more, take action, and invite others to be a part of this important work so that all people have a home.
The Scott County Beacon Campaign Action Team is excited to bring more opportunities for learning and action to more congregations. Plans are being made for Scott County Commissioner Conversations around the county and state funding needed to create these homes.
Contact Kristin Gilbert, Congregational Organizer at Beacon if you’d like to learn more about our plans in Scott County or how to get involved.