Beacon Announces Bimosedaa in Downtown Minneapolis

Dan Gregory May 7, 2019

Housing in downtown Minneapolis will include culturally relevant support services for individuals in the Native community who have experienced homelessness.

We are thrilled to announce plans to create about 50 new apartment homes for members of the Native community who have experienced homelessness through a partnership with the Red Lake Nation. Bimosedaa – an Ojibwe word that translates into English as ‘let’s walk together’ – is planned as a rehabilitation of the historic Rockler Fur Building in downtown Minneapolis’ Warehouse District.

Developed by Beacon, Bimosedaa is a direct response to the need presented at the Wall of Forgotten Natives in 2018. “The Wall of Forgotten Natives was a stark reminder for many that this is a time that demands bold action,” says Beacon’s Executive Director Lee Blons. “As people of faith, we can’t pass the mantle to someone else – we needed to be among those listening to and saying ‘yes’ to our neighbors whose only shelter from the elements was a tent,” she reflects. “Beacon has a history of taking bold action to create homes, and at Bimosedaa, we get to do so again.”

According to a 2015 report by Wilder Research, Minnesota’s American Indian residents were homeless at 17 times the rate of white Minnesotans. Many members of the Native community living at the encampment deeply valued the ability to live together to preserve and enrich cultural and community connections. Creating stable housing where these connections could be maintained was a theme advocates heard over and over again, and lifted up as a key recommendation to provide stability moving forward. At a special gathering in November, leaders from many of our 90+ collaborating congregations affirmed that creating apartments like this was an organizational priority. Thank you to everyone there, and others from across the collaborative, for your wisdom and passion to see these homes become a reality! Conversations with leaders from Red Lake Nation, the City of Minneapolis, and service providers such as Avivo also confirmed that our organizational history and focus aligned with their priorities for stable homes and intensive support services.

Red Lake Nation plans to provide agreements for the project that open state funding and coordinate support services. “This opportunity to create homes with Beacon that honor our heritage and our culture is part of Red Lake’s broader investment in housing in the Twin Cities,” says Alisha Gehlert, Director of Economic Development and Planning for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. “Being in the heart of the city and keeping the idea of walking together – no one goes alone – at the heart of this vision is really important to this work,” she continues. “Bimosedaa is a reflection of our commitment to the idea that we are here to reassure and support one another as a community. And we’ll all be better because of it.”

Housing with on-site support services included helps residents find stability and is a less-expensive, more-sustainable investment of resources than keeping people in homelessness. “When people no longer have to worry whether they’ll have a roof over their head and heat on a cold night, they can find space to consider what the next step might look like,” says Blons, championing the need for supportive housing.

Residents at Bimosedaa will enjoy easy access to light rail and bus routes, one of the best and largest libraries in Minnesota, and excellent shopping, recreation, and entertainment options. Council Member Steve Fletcher is thrilled that these apartments will be coming to the Warehouse District, part of Ward 3 that he represents. “Downtown Minneapolis is for everyone, and I am so excited to be working with Beacon and Red Lake Nation to welcome Bimosedaa to the neighborhood,” he remarked. “Last year, the encampment at Hiawatha and Franklin highlighted the need for low-barrier housing as a critical gap in our community, and it is exactly this kind of collaboration between the City and non-profit organizations like Beacon that is needed to fill that gap.”

“The whole premise of Bimosedaa is reflected in its meaning: let us walk together,” smiled Blons, referencing the many voices and organizations uniting efforts to make these homes a reality. “That’s the kind of society I want to live in, where we choose to walk together because we know we’ll all be better because of it. And it’s the kind of community we get to lift up through supportive apartment homes like Bimosedaa.”

Beacon is seeking capital funding and city approvals, and hopes to begin renovations on the Rockler Fur Building in the summer of 2020.


Together, we have stepped up in a BIG way to create these new homes. We need your ongoing support to turn homes like Bimosedaa from vision into reality. Doing the math, we’ve learned it takes $15,000 to start a home—we call it a seed—a seed that when planted by donors like you can grow into a home. This seed allows Beacon to do all the work needed long before the shovel hits the dirt: the planning, organizing, design and financing. Contact Sarah to discuss how your gift of any amount can plant a seed for Bimosedaa: or (651) 789-6260 ext. 208.