News Archives - 2009
MSW student is raising awareness
On any given night in Minneapolis there are 9,300 people who are homeless and in need of a place to stay. Half of the homeless are children. The numbers reflect a serious lack of affordable housing and livable wage jobs, income disparities, and children at risk, right here in our community.
These are the issues Katie Klemme '09 is exposed to every day as a master of social work student at Augsburg. Klemme's internship has partnered her with Simpson Housing Services, in Minneapolis, a program that has provided shelter, affordable housing, and support services to men, women, and children for more than 25 years.
Klemme came to Simpson with a strong interest in public policy and developing public awareness to support a political position. She wanted specifically to find out how to move volunteers from hands-on work to advocacy. "We need to recognize that our voices are really powerful and we can make a difference." Klemme's work led her to the State Capitol where she observed committee hearings and learned about bills that could affect Simpson and its clients.
With a committee from Simpson, Klemme organized a "Signing for the Streets" advocacy event, recruiting and training 85 volunteers to raise awareness about local homelessness. Volunteers were stationed at 25 freeway exits with signs bearing messages like "Half of state's homeless are children...Call your State legislator." The group also distributed postcards with talking points to help citizens have conversations with policy makers.
"We need to create an attitude change and raise awareness about homelessness," says Klemme. "We are losing jobs and the average Joe is losing his home. It's an issue we need to attack holistically, as a community."
Over the course of a year Simpson will help 187 families, 253 single adults in housing, 2,106 men in shelters, and 283 women in shelters. Last year there was a 27 percent increase in the number of families served—that figure is expected to double this year.
Go to www.simpsonhousing.org for more information about homelessness and how you can help.
Article by Jennifer Hipple