“Discussing homelessness after Sukkot”

Homelessness in Saint Paul remains a concern during the pandemic.

AJ Washington, Reporter

Last Friday was the first day of the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. 


Hamline’s Jewish Student Organization put up a sukkah, a temporary shelter, in the garden in front of Bush Library and West Hall. Sukkot, also referred to as the Feast of Tabernacles,  commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt and the end of harvest time. 


Sukkah is the Hebrew word for “booth.” This booth symbolizes the temporary shelters that Israelites slept in during their exodus.


Traditionally, Jewish farmers slept and ate in a sukkah for seven days during harvest, then returned home. During this time, Jewish people not only honor the struggles of their ancestors but also extend empathy to those without a home.


Today, those experiencing displacement in the Twin Cities are lucky to even find a vacancy in a homeless shelter. 


St. Paul’s initiative to end homelessness began in December of 2013 with the publication of “Heading Home,” a two year action plan for preventing and ending homelessness in Minnesota.


In 2016, the document was rewritten and titled “The Minnesota Integracy Council to End Homelessness.” The update included fine-tuned principles and strategies, as well as a goal to end homelessness in Minnesota by 2020.


According to “Heading Home,” in 2013 7,600 Minnesotans experienced homelessness any given night. 


 In 2018, Wilder Research recorded the homeless population as 19,600 in the document “Homelessness in Minnesota.”


The coronavirus has created an additional challenge for shelters. The dense population and the shelter staff’s inability to regulate contact poses a high risk of contraction for temporary residents.


In result, many homeless persons have created their own temporary housing in tents and huts referred to as “encampments.” 


Encampments have popped up all over St.Paul as the city continues to struggle with homelessness. There is an encampment consisting of five or some tents at Hamline Park on the corner of Snelling and Thomas Ave.


Dan, a thirty-two year old musician lives in one of these tents.

Dan taught himself how to play guitar. He also writes and plays his own music.When asked to recall his life five years ago, Dan said he was in a state similar to his current one.


However, at that time Dan was employed and living with his mother. 


Dan said he faced “normal life problems: girls and money” and “emotional stuff”.


He described his current situation with one word: disequilibrium.


“I know I need to make a change. Finding the right motivating factor is like a needle in a haystack,” he said.


Dan’s needs from the St.Paul community are simple.“I need to eat and sleep, Dan said. “I need safety. I need to be social.”


He desires a unified and peaceful community that educates people and that is non-judgmental and understanding. He also believes that everyone has the responsibility to contribute to their community.


When asked what he hopes to contribute to the community, Dan said, “To bring American culture forward into an evolved way of thinking with quality, compassion, empathy and integrity. Start these things from a family construct and science.”


On Oct. 17, HUPB is hosting a two part information session about mutual aid and its importance in the community. The event will be held on the Alumni Way/Sorin Lawn at eleven in the morning.