Homelessness is not unique to any one area of our state. More than 10,000 people in small towns, suburbs and big cities experience homelessness throughout Minnesota on any given night, according to the Wilder Foundation. But homelessness looks different in different parts of the state depending on what resources, services and support is available in that area. In the growing city of Rochester, where there is little existing shelter infrastructure, city and county officials are wrestling with the immediate need to keep people safe in dangerous temperatures and providing long-term solutions.
Rochester native and Catholic Charities President and CEO Tim Marx recently joined Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, Olmsted County leaders and members of the community to share his expertise addressing homelessness in the Twin Cities and across the state of Minnesota. Marx provided insight to address the problem before it becomes a crisis like in other areas of the country. “Rochester is not in crisis mode. It’s got a problem,” said Marx, “The challenge is doing it now with speed, scale, and intensity, particularly with winter not too far off.”
Unlike big cities where the number of people experiencing homelessness can be difficult to track, Marx said that in Rochester, “the numbers are relatively low. You can pretty much almost know and get to know the people with particular kind of outreach.” But Marx encouraged leaders to act fast, particularly with another harsh winter looming, “you can’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. You’ve got to get going so that people aren’t in danger in this cold weather.”
Marx is proud of his hometown for taking these proactive steps to address the issue now, “What is so heartening to see in my hometown is the type of collaboration that is coming together to address what is right now not a crisis, but a problem,” he said.