Our community experienced a tragedy on Christmas. The Drake Hotel, housing about 250 people in our community that exist in the margins, burned and is a total loss. A blessing is that there seems to be no reported deaths or serious injuries. The Drake is a modest form of housing. I use the word “modest” meaning most people wouldn’t live there if they had the means to live somewhere else. But it provided the most basic forms of shelter – a roof overhead, a place to sleep and toilet facilities.
With the ongoing conversation in our community about the need for affordable housing, this may be a tipping point for the crisis. The now well-known encampment in 2018 often referred to as “The Wall of Forgotten Natives” along Hiawatha Ave in Minneapolis brought the topic up in local media and around the dinner table. Our local officials and certain non-profits did step in to create a temporary solution in creating the Navigation Center, then moved to break ground to create 110 permanent housing units on that very site. A good start. But only a start.
The events associated with The Wall was the catalyst that brought government, non-profits and the public together to work on solutions. It seems pain and trouble are the great motivator, whether it be in one’s personal life or in that of a society.
The question is: Does everyone in the richest society on earth deserve to be housed?
My hope and prayer is that the outcome of another devastating event in our community will bring that question to the forefront, so we as the people of Minnesota will answer this – affirmatively.