Social Work Students Supply The North Loop

Mina Himlie, online publishing coordinator

Photo of the North Loop Homeless Encampment taken by Adrian Cerrato on Nov. 23.

If you live in Minneapolis, you’ve probably seen the seemingly endless number of people who are experiencing homelessness due to a lack of affordable housing. While the root causes of homelessness are structural in nature, there are still things that can be done to provide resources for people who need them. Augsburg social work juniors Avery Preston and Adrian Cerrato have decided to do what they can by starting Project North Loop. 

The idea for Project North Loop came to Preston in late October. “Some days my directions would get messed up and take me right past the homeless encampment on Franklin and Cedar Avenue,” Preston told the Echo. “There was one day I drove past in the pouring rain and watched some of the people there trying to find shelter under the eaves of a roof. That’s when I decided I wanted to do something. I couldn’t imagine being out there in the pouring rain or the freezing cold this winter will bring.” Soon after this, Preston asked Cerrato to join the project.

After the city removed the encampment on Franklin and Cedar, Preston and Cerrato focused their attention on another encampment in the North Loop neighborhood. From talking with some of the residents of the encampment, Preston learned that there are about 50 people there, each generally living two to a tent and in need of resources.

The current goal of Project North Loop is to give each of the residents a backpack filled with necessities including toiletries, blankets, food, water, hand and feet warmers, winter clothing, and more. This is especially important because it has been getting cold, and as any Minnesotan knows, it will only get colder. Preston plans to make the first drop-off around Christmastime and once again in January.

These drop-offs are only the beginning for Project North Loop. Both Preston and Cerrato hope to expand the reach of the project if the resources become available. “I don’t want this to be much of a one time thing,” Cerrato said. He envisions building an ongoing relationship between the homeless population and the students of the Augsburg social work department. Preston understands that in order to do that, they must start small. 

“For now, we are starting with this encampment,” added Preston. “With the right resources, help, and donations, we could reach more people.”

To see a complete list of items that you can donate or to electronically donate money to the project, visit projectnorthloop.com. To donate items or learn more about getting involved, email projectnorthloop@gmail.com. You can keep up to date with the project by following their Instagram page, @projectnorthloop.