Homelessness is a harsh reality in our community and poses unthinkable obstacles; the problem only intensifies with the age of the individual.  Mobility and medical issues can concentrate the issues.

Two highly-visible Duluth-based organizations recently came together to provide an asset in the situation.  St. Luke's and CHUM entered into a partnership to offer additional housing for homeless seniors in the Twin Ports - via the St. Francis Apartments located in downtown Duluth.

The building - located at 131 West Superior Street - will provide apartment units for homeless seniors in Duluth.

CHUM started the process earlier this year by leasing the first floor of the two-story Duluth Inn; at that time, the organization was able to provide 22 apartment units.

Here's how the new partnership will work.  St. Luke's purchased the building and will provide all of the necessary maintenance; CHUM will provide the programming.  Under the newly-announced arrangement, the organizations can offer shelter to almost four times the number as the original structure; instead of eleven residents, 43 will be able to have a place to call home.

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Leadership from both organizations offered their gratefulness towards their partners in making this mission happen.  St. Luke's Board of Directors Chair Herb Minke shared:

"We see this as an incredible way we can partner with CHUM, which is tremendous asset [sic] to our community, to create a safety net for the most vulnerable.  We are proud to be here today and look forward to what this means for so many in our community in the future."

Equally optimistic, CHUM Executive Director John Cole offered his take on the partnership and the need for housing for homeless seniors in the area:

"Having this resource is crucial to helping our most vulnerable adults get the resources they need.  It's exciting to be able to grow and make progress on this challenging issue in our community."

Providing aid to homeless people - especially homeless seniors - also links to the medical mission of St. Luke's.  Nick Van Deelen, MD, St. Luke's Co-President/CEO and Chief Medical Officer added:

"We know that having stable housing is foundational to good health.  In addition to our healthcare experience, we have a lot of expertise with building management and maintenance.  We bring this experience and additional resources to the project, while CHUM brings a wealth of experience in helping connect people with housing and providing supportive services.  This is a great way we can work together to create a healthier Duluth."

While St. Luke's and CHUM are the primary partners in St. Francis Apartments, a variety of other organizations assisted to make the project possible.  Support also came from the City of Duluth, the Duluth Housing & Redevelopment Authority, One Roof Community Housing, and St. Louis County.

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