Friday night the parking lot of Plymouth Congregational Church was filled with teenage energy and a village of cardboard boxes. About 350 teenagers from 34 congregations gathered for “A Night on the Street,” sleeping in cardboard boxes overnight and raising $37,000 for affordable housing.Before settling in for the night, the young people visited with residents of nearby Lydia Apartments, a 40-unit supportive housing community for homeless adults with disabilities. Lydia Apartments is one of the affordable housing projects supported by the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, a faith-based housing developer. Other projects include an 11-unit apartment building for teen mothers in south Minneapolis.
Later in the evening, the teens listened to speakers and energetic performers in the parking lot. After 10 p.m., they started to line up for their cardboard boxes.
Betsy Robertson and Grete Wilt came from Lake of the Isles Lutheran church. “We like doing things to help people,” they explained. “More people need to be aware.” They raised money by knocking on doors, and asking friends and relatives and people at school. Other funding is contributed by corporate sponsors of the event.
Lee Blons, Executive Director of the Foundation, said the teens came from not only Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also suburbs as far away as Shakopee and Elk River. Blons said that building supportive housing is “the right thing to do … [and] actually cheaper than emergency shelters and services.”