Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge of homelessness and transitional housing in Minnesota.

The answers are in the article.

How many people are homeless in Minnesota?
A. 5,000 people
B. 7,000 people
C. 10,000 people
D. 15,000 people

How many of Minnesota’s homeless are living in transitional housing?
A. 1,000 people
B. 2,000 people
C. 4,000 people
D. 5,000 people

True or False. The majority of homeless people in Minnesota live in the metro area (including Dakota County).

Over the holiday season (2013), you may or may not have noticed a small article in the newsletter devoted to Easter’s CATCH House. But what is the CATCH House? Based on the questions above, you might be able to guess. CATCH, the Coalition for Affordable Transitional Community Housing, provides transitional housing for the homeless of Dakota County. However, you may not know that Easter Lutheran sponsors a CATCH House in Eagan.


The Easter Lutheran Quilters with a donated quilt

According to the most recent Wilder Research study, over 10,000 people are homeless in Minnesota. The majority of those people live in the metro area, which includes Dakota County. Over 4,000 homeless Minnesotans are able to get transitional housing. CATCH provides housing to people through six different apartments or townhouses in the metro area. All are sponsored by local churches.

The transitional home isn’t free. CATCH acts as the landlord, collecting 30 percent of the resident’s income to pay for housing. “They have to be working toward something, whether it’s getting their health squared away or education or finding a job,” Easter member Robin Keiffer says. Residents can stay up to two years to get their lives back on track.

In 1994, an Eagan townhouse became available. Robin, already active with the CATCH organization, seized the opportunity for Easter Lutheran to sponsor a transitional home through CATCH. Robin has always had a passion for homelessness in our community. Working closely with each of the families at the Easter CATCH house has been a way to turn her passion into action.

A particularly impactful experience for Robin occurred early in the townhouse’s history. One of the first families to live in the townhouse was a young couple with a child. Both were working until the couple had a second child. The mother had to go on bed rest for three months. As a result, she lost her job and benefits. No longer able to afford their apartment, the family was kicked out just as winter set in.

Robin says, “Luckily, the Easter townhouse was open and they could move in.” Shortly after moving in, the family welcomed a healthy baby girl and, eventually, was able to move out of the townhouse to more permanent housing. According to Robin, the family is doing fine today.

For a year and a half, the Easter townhouse was home to a high school student from Burnsville. Life at home wasn’t good. His mother’s boyfriend didn’t like him, so the boy spent time hopping couches from one friend’s house to another. He was living out of his car, but still on track to graduate from high school. The eleventh grader was working toward finishing school, but also learned how to take care of himself. Robin says, “He had determination. He was going to get through it.”

They’re from all different walks of life and all have different stories.

In January 2014, the townhouse was home to a mother and her 11-year-old son.  Before moving in, Robin and a group of volunteers painted the rooms and got the house ready for the family. The Easter Lutheran quilting group pitched in and made two quilts for them. “They’re very appreciative of what we do for them,” Robin says.