As thousands of people flooded Minneapolis-St. Paul’s hotels for the Super Bowl this weekend, many of the cities’ homeless families were forced from their current lodging.
According to City Lab, the inflated hotel rates that came as a result of the large influx of people visiting the Super Bowl exceeded public funding provided to shelter displaced families. Many of the cities’ homeless were relocated to local churches and shelters, but most of them were overwhelmed and did not have the space for entire families. As such, many of the 2,000 homeless children in the St. Paul public school system had to sleep with their families in tents, cars, or simply outside on the street.
Every Winter, the notoriously cold temperatures in Minnesota create a dire need to protect the unsheltered homeless. In February, the Twin City’s average lows of 13 degrees and highs of only 29. This creates a problem for the homeless advocacy initiative Project REACH, which partners with local hotels and motels to shelter homeless families of public school students. In 2015, Anne McInerney, a Project REACH supervisor, went to the Department of Education to try to use schools as a place to shelter the homeless, but rather than use the schools as shelters, the country agreed to fund hotel housing for homeless families.
Despite the lack of hotel space, St. Paul public schools are still committed to finding appropriate shelters for homeless students and their families. The city recently jump-started an emergency initiative that not only accepts donations to shelter families but to also transport them to and from school.