Proposal to House Homeless Youth in Edina Gets Support, Skepticism

Updated: 08/13/2014 11:13 PM By: Todd Wilson

Photo: Photo: KSTP-TV

The suburbs don't usually come to mind when you think about homelessness. But there are so many young people without a place to stay in the southwest suburbs, a former bank building could turn into apartments for homeless youth.

A local religious group, Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, wants to buy the vacant TCF Bank  in Edina just north of Southdale Center and convert it to housing.

"The target population is young people who are homeless in the suburbs not just Edina but Bloomington, Hopkins and St. Louis Park," said Lee Blons, executive director of for Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. 

She says, the project will have 39 studio apartments. It will cater to young people ages 18-19. What makes this proposal so unique is that there will be support services on site to help them, like counseling.

"Learn how to be a good tenant, go to school, get a job and really know how to move forward with their lives," Blons said. 

City Manager Scott Neal says a project of this kind has never been proposed before in Edina. He said the city is looking into concerns that crime could be an issue as opponents claim it has been at other Beacon properties.

"They have a similar facility in Minneapolis on Nicollet Avenue. We are taking a look at the crime stats in that area. We just need to resolve that question with some research," he said.  

Blons says there are an estimated 250 to 330 young people homeless in the suburbs. She says this is a perfect location because it's close to hundreds of entry level jobs at Southdale Mall and Fairview Hospital and has good access to public transportation.

The project is expected to cost $9 million and the Edina City Council is scheduled to vote on it at a September meeting.