City urged to address American Indian housing needs
The Duluth American Indian Commission is urging the city to create a special work group to address housing needs. The effort is the result of a needs assessment report entitled "Anishinabe abi in Duluth" by the Wilder Research Center. The study, ...
The Duluth American Indian Commission is urging the city to create a special work group to address housing needs.
The effort is the result of a needs assessment report entitled "Anishinabe abi in Duluth" by the Wilder Research Center. The study, completed in December 2003, took about a year and was based on 100 interviews of American Indians in Duluth.
The report found that only 23 percent of American Indian households own their homes and that approximately a third of the homeless in St. Louis County are American Indians.
It also found that Duluth's American Indian population is the city's largest "community of color" with an average household income of just over half of the city's median income of $33,766.
"We have a very disproportionate number of homeless in our Native American community," said Mayor Herb Bergson. "We need to do something about it."
"One-third of the homeless are Native Americans," he said. "That tells us there is really something wrong with what we're doing."
Citing the recent death of the Rev. Arthur Foy, Bergson said this is a chance to carry on the pastor's work, for other low income people as well.
The mayor is recommending that the City Council establish the work group under the guidance of the commission. He said the group will explore acquiring and setting aside specific funds for American Indian and housing related issues.
His administration will support commission efforts to bring tribes and reservations into the process. Bergson listed community development block grants as one source of funds.
"We are trying to get a work group going," said Dr. Robert Powless, commission chair. "We are encouraging the city to look for funding and hoping to get tribal entities to take part."
He said that 57 percent of American Indians in Duluth under age 18 are living below the poverty level.
Powless attributed the housing problem to that poverty, along with the movement of Indians in and out of the city and the job situation.
"It's tough for an American Indian to get a job in the city," said Powless. He said there is considerable work ahead to make a difference and added that Duluth is the only city with an American Indian Commission.
Monday, the council will consider a resolution accepting the needs assessment and adopting recommendations of the commission.