Working together to navigate the complexities of ending homelessness.
What We Do
MESH helps regions, communities, and organizations develop strategic and customized solutions for ending homelessness, based on national best practices and almost twenty years of learning from our work with dozens of partners. To our work at entry level of a community’s efforts to end homelessness, MESH brings its prized expertise, broad network, and informed and objective perspective. We believe that if a solution doesn’t work for your community or your organization, then it isn’t going to work for your neighbors experiencing homelessness.
It is estimated that on any given night, approximately 21,000 people in Minnesota are homeless or precariously housed—most of whom are children. Studies show that the longer a person is homeless, the more difficult the path back to stability—the greater the toll taken on their physical and mental health, the more their children struggle to adapt to new schools and the stigma of homelessness, and the more relationships begin to disintegrate under the stress of the situation.
Critical barriers to homeless people accessing shelter, housing support, and services include the widely varying strategies, policies and residency requirements across the seven-county metro area. The Twin Cities metro area contains 7 counties, over 100 cities, and dozens of shelter and service providers. Clearly if counties, cities and service providers coordinate to provide streamlined services and create shelter and housing where it most needed, the time and trauma of homelessness can be significantly decreased. MESH believes that by establishing productive working relationships and long-term commitments to coordination, both public policy and funding can be leveraged for more effective and efficient regional solutions to homelessness.
In May of 2000 a formerly homeless man, Greg Horan, convened the first meeting of Metro-wide Engagement for Shelter & Housing (MESH). Greg had experienced firsthand the labyrinthine difficulty in navigating shelter and service policies from one county to the next. For a person facing homelessness, county boundaries are abstract and meaningless. People who are homeless often move in and out of counties, many perhaps working in one county and seeking shelter in another. County residency rules, on the other hand, often prohibit services and shelter beds based solely on an individual’s county of origin. As co-chair of the St. Paul Coalition for the Homeless and a board member of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Mr. Horan recognized that in order to address the systemic causes of homelessness, dialogue and planning across jurisdictional lines would need to become a primary priority.
Over time, MESH’s scope has expanded and we are doing more projects that are statewide or encompass regions outside of the Metro. With this in mind the MESH board decided in 2018 to change the name of MESH from “Metro-wide” to “Minnesota” Engagement on Shelter & Housing.
In its short history, MESH has had many great accomplishments. MESH has improved our metro area’s response to homelessness and housing through:
Education & Training
Research & Assessment
Policy Advisory & Advocacy Work
Technical Assistance and Collaboration Support