Announcing Simpson Housing Services’ New Shelter Project

Posted on February 20th, 2020

Dear Friends:

As we have previously shared with you, Simpson became the owner of the Simpson United Methodist Church property last spring, home of our current shelter. Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new shelter project at the site.

Simpson’s board of directors and staff are committed to designing and executing a national best practice shelter model. This will include a low-barrier space with 70 beds and 42 units of permanent supportive housing that can be replicated in the Twin Cities and across the nation. We are planning to create a modern and dignified shelter, intentionally designed to meet the short-term housing needs of our shelter guests.

Working with the design architect, LHB (formerly Cermak Rhoades Architects), and the property developer, Project for Pride in Living, our new shelter is expected to be built within the next two to three years.

Community Collaboration

Thirty-eight years ago, Simpson began as an emergency overnight shelter in the basement of Simpson United Methodist Church, and ever since we have provided housing, support, and advocacy to guests in need of shelter. Carrying forward an important legacy of social justice, the new shelter will be constructed at the same site, surrounded by the welcoming and culturally rich Whittier neighborhood.

In late January, Simpson’s leadership gathered with the Whittier Alliance Housing Issues Committee to share the preliminary project approach and engage community partners in dialogue surrounding the project. The proposal was well-received by community leaders, business owners, and residents.

We are energized by the community’s engagement with not only this project, but also the important work of helping people achieve safe and sustainable housing. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with the Whittier Alliance Housing Issues Committee and will continue to update the community as plans for the new shelter move forward.

Our Vision

Centered on Simpson’s value of celebrating and embracing the uniqueness and dignity of every person, the new shelter model will create an uplifting environment – with windows and natural light – for participants to work with staff, overcome barriers, and achieve improved housing placement outcomes.

Extended hours and accommodations for service partners will increase access to resources that support guests’ physical, mental, and chemical health needs.

The proposed shelter structure will have five stories with accessible and adaptable space, intentionally designed to meet guests’ needs:

  • The first floor will house a commercial kitchen and dining room with capacity to serve meals for approximately 100 people. It will also house a 24-hour front desk, a healthcare office to be operated by Hennepin County Healthcare for the Homeless and other partners, and space for volunteer groups who cook and serve daily meals for guests.
  • The second floor will house women’s and gender flexible sleeping areas, laundry facilities, showers, community areas, and offices for staff and community partners.
  • The third floor will house men’s sleeping areas, laundry facilities, showers, community areas, and offices for staff and community partners.
  • The fourth and fifth floors will include 42 efficiency units of permanent supportive housing, each roughly 300-400 square feet, geared toward individuals who have experienced long-term homelessness. The housing will be managed by Project for Pride in Living.

Moving Forward

It’s an exciting time at Simpson. We remain focused on helping guests and participants get stabilized back into our communities through safe and stable housing. Since the beginning of our fiscal year, we have moved 62 shelter guests into housing.

There is more to do – and with our new shelter and your collaboration, we can ease the burden of homelessness on members of our community. We hope you will stay connected with us as we move forward with plans for the new shelter.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to ask questions or have a conversation with us about the project.