Anoka delays decision on shelter

Published 9:47 am Thursday, December 26, 2013

ANOKA — A proposed homeless shelter for young adults is meeting resistance from Anoka city officials.

The Anoka City Council recently imposed a moratorium on new shelters and Mayor Phil Rice said adding more beds could burden his community of 17,000.

After opening a drop-in center for homeless youth in March, the nonprofit Hope4Youth now wants to add up to 10 beds for 18- to 23-year-olds, according to board member Karrie Schaaf.

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With a 60-bed adult shelter available in town, Rice said the city is doing more than most of its neighbors.

“I have no problem with a moratorium to make sure all the ducks are in a row,” Schaaf said. “But to hear the mayor come out and say there are already enough shelter beds in this community … that scares me, because it’s just so wrong.”

People in that age group need support that’s different from that offered at most adult shelters, such as help completing high school, writing a resume or acquiring vital documents, Schaaf said.

The reported number of homeless 18- to 21-year-olds in Anoka County jumped from 54 in 2009 to 150 last year, according to the county’s annual homeless count. Meanwhile, the total number of homeless people in Anoka County rose from 1,004 in 2009 to 1,463 last year.

Anoka will spend the three months studying its services and those in the area, Rich said.

If Anoka turns down the shelter, Hope4Youth will look elsewhere in the county, said Deb Lande, the organization’s executive director.