District 10: Groups exploring family homeless shelter in Bandana Square

By Michael Kuchta

Interfaith Action and Ramsey County are exploring the feasibility of opening a homeless shelter and day center for families inside the Minnesota Cameroon Community Center in Bandana Square.

“There are no solid plans, but it’s an exciting opportunity with lots of possibilities,” Sara Liegl, director of Interfaith Action’s Project Home, told the District 10 Como Community Council’s Land Use Committee on Jan. 6. The groups are working out reno­vation and code requirements; costs, construction and operational funding; staffing; and logistical needs, she said, adding that late summer is the earliest that a shelter could open.

Currently, Ramsey County does not have a permanent shelter for homeless families. Instead, Project Home provides 40 beds a night in a rotating group of faith communities and schools. Fami­lies must move every 30 days. Project Home also operates a day center for families at First Baptist Church in downtown St. Paul.

The shortage of beds is mind-boggling, Liegl says: Throughout 2019, there were at least 120 parents and children in Ramsey County on a waiting list for shelter at any given time.

The Cameroon Community owns about 57,000 square feet of space in the northwest corner of Bandana Square in St. Paul’s Energy Park district. The space used to be a medical clinic. It still has more than 70 exam rooms with sinks, plus public bathrooms and other public space.

The preliminary thinking is the former exam rooms could be converted into flexible, dormitory-­style rooms, providing private space for 40 to 60 families of different sizes, and perhaps older women, Liegl says. Other space could be used for meals, showers, storage, laundry and case management services.

“When we found out about the plight of the homeless fami­lies, the school children, it was heartbreaking,” said Christian Akale, a board member of the Minnesota Cameroon Community. “We hope the building will be part of the solution.”

Como’s Ash Trees Dodge the Buzzsaw in 2020

For the first time in years, the city’s Forestry Department does not plan to cut down any boule­vard ash trees in District 10 in 2020.

Since foresters took down the first ash on California Avenue in 2009, the city has removed more than 800 ash trees from public property in Como as part of its ongoing fight against the invasive emerald ash borer.

Citywide, more than 11,000 ash trees have been removed from boulevards in the past decade; in 2020, foresters expect to cut down an additional 2,200 trees.

According to the city’s inventory, there are about 365 boulevard ash trees left in District 10. About 120 of them are being treated with the insecticide TREE-age (Emamectin benzoate).

Upcoming District 10 Meetings

Neighborhood Relations Committee: Tuesday Feb. 4

Land Use Committee: Monday Feb. 10 (rescheduled)

Environment Committee: Wednesday Feb. 12

Community Council Board: Tuesday Feb. 18

All meetings typically begin at 7 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington Parkway and Horton Avenue. The public is welcome to attend and partici­pate. Whenever possible, agendas are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website. 

Michael Kuchta is the executive director of the District 10 Community Council.

    1 Response

    1. paul

      This would be a bad idea. I know there need space for homeless but to close to homeowners and the hotel etc. They should think of another building that is either downtown or not by residential areas.

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