Simpson Housing to build new shelter, units

Simpson Housing Services
Simpson Housing Services will demolish the Simpson United Methodist Church and build a new five-story structure with 70 shelter beds, 42 units of permanent housing for the chronically homeless, a health clinic and other resources. Submitted image

Simpson Housing Services is starting a new project that will replace its current emergency shelter with modern facilities to include 70 short-term beds and 42 units of permanent supportive housing units.

“We are planning to create a modern and dignified shelter, intentionally designed to meet the short-term housing needs of our shelter guests,” the organization wrote on its website.

Simpson United Methodist Church at 28th & 1st, where the nonprofit has operated a shelter since 1982, will be demolished. The congregation officially disbanded in 2019 and the building was donated to Simpson Housing, which plans to raze the existing structure and construct a five-story facility designed to meet the needs of guests.

The project was approved by the Minneapolis Planning Commission on June 15. It required the property to be redesignated from Interior 3 to Corridor 6 zoning to allow for additional height.

The first floor will contain a commercial kitchen and dining room designed to serve up to 100 people at a time and a medical clinic to be staffed by Hennepin County Healthcare for the Homeless. The second and third floors will contain sleeping areas for up to 70 people, the same number the shelter has room for today, with designated spaces for women, men and nonbinary people. Those floors will have showers, laundry rooms, community areas and office space for Simpson staff and partner organizations.

On the fourth and fifth floors there will be 42 apartments, 30 of which will be designated for chronically homeless households identified as high-priority by Hennepin County, according to documents submitted to the city. The apartments will be around 400 square feet. The units will be designated as deeply affordable, with 25% reserved for households earning 30% or less of area median income and the rest reserved for those earning 50% or less of area median income. The housing units will have a separate entrance from the shelter space. Housing will be managed by the Project for Pride in Living.

At the new structure, Simpson Housing will offer extended hours of service, including a 24-hour check-in desk.

“Centered on Simpson’s value of celebrating and embracing the uniqueness and dignity of every person, the new shelter model will create an uplifting environment – with windows and natural light – for participants to work with staff, overcome barriers, and achieve improved housing placement outcomes,” the organization wrote on its website.

The Whittier Alliance and Council President Lisa Bender (Ward 10) wrote letters in support of the project.

Simpson plans to relocate its shelter operation to a nearby commercial property during construction of the new facility.