Avivo Village in St. Cloud to serve adults who are experiencing homelessness in St. Cloud and the Tri-County Area

Mock-up schematic of what an Avivo Village in St. Cloud could potentially look like.

In late 2022, community leaders began working together to explore bringing the Avivo Village shelter model to St. Cloud to help address the growing number of people experiencing homelessness and living unsheltered in the City of St. Cloud and the Tri-County area. This proposed project will add a transitional living shelter, designed with private rooms and extensive wrap-around services, to the local continuum of care dedicated to ending homelessness. The Avivo Village model is designed to support adults’ transition into permanent housing. Moving forward with the proposed project is dependent upon confirming a location and securing additional funding.

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Stearns County has been steadily increasing. According to the Point In Time Count, the number of individuals living unsheltered any given night in 2023 was 359 compared to 173 individuals in 2019. Like in many other Minnesota cities, a lack of affordable and middle-class housing opportunities have brought challenges to many residents. This, along with economic challenges, growing numbers of persons experiencing substance use disorders, and an increasing mental health crisis, have contributed to homelessness in the region. Avivo’s low-barrier, service-rich shelter option for unsheltered neighbors with help address these issues.

A steering committee of county and city providers, St. Cloud Mayor’s Office representatives, community advocates and representatives of the area’s continuum of care worked together on the proposed Avivo Village:

  • 56 private dwellings inside a newly constructed property with common spaces for group activities and service delivery
  • Private outdoor spaces for outdoor recreation, pet care, and gathering
  • 24/7 security and on-site resident advocates, housing case managers, and support team that braids community-based health care, mental health and support services to support residents’ paths to best next steps and permanent housing in the community
  • Safety, security, and low-barrier access for residents and a location that gives them access to transit, commercial amenities, and proximity to residential communities
  • New construction which aims for high sustainability standards including passive solar, enhanced energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy that will nearly eliminate carbon emissions. It will follow LEED certification guidelines, further establishing the facility as an asset.

Finding a site that meets facility and residents’ needs has been a challenge. Eighteen different locations in the City of St. Cloud were evaluated. A purchase offer on one site was rejected. To receive several million dollars in state funding, a verified property (“site control”) was required.

What is Avivo Village? The Avivo Village model is a low-barrier shelter geared to meet people where they are on their journey towards housing. Secure individual rooms provide safety and privacy for each person. This necessary stability allows each person to engage in a wide variety of wrap-around services. Avivo’s professional staff, in conjunction with local service providers, are specially trained to address the unique social, mental, and physical health needs of people who have been living outdoors. Avivo’s approach is founded in the dignity of each person and allows residents to bring their pets, ensures their privacy, and lets them keep their possessions. Individuals facing substance use disorders or mental health challenges are welcomed by our team so they can access shelter, assistance, and guidance for their next steps, all within a supportive environment.

Avivo has been awared $7.65 in state grate funding, and the St. Cloud City Council has approved the redirection of $232,000 in CDBG funds and pass-through funding of $750,000 in Statewide Affordable Housing funds for the proposed Avivo Village St. Cloud. The City Council also approved entering into a long-term lease agreement with Avivo of city-owned property to build Avivo Village.

“We are profoundly thankful for the leadership, encouragement and commitment to serving some of the most vulnerable community members in St. Cloud,” shares Kelly Matter, President and CEO of Avivo. “We are committed to being outstanding neighbors and are initiating a Good Neighbor Working Group to build and maintain positive relations with our immediate neighbors and the community as a whole.”

The Good Neighbor Working Group will serve as a vital channel for dialogue, cooperation and action to addresss any concerns, harness community strengths, and contribute positively to the neighborhood’s vibrancy and safety. For more information on how to get involved with the Good Neighbor Working Group or to support Avivo Village St. Cloud, please email contact@avivomn.org

To learn more about the Avivo Village transitional living shelter model, read about Avivo Village North Loop in Minneapolis and its impact on the people it serves and the wider community. If you would like to support Avivo’s work to end homelessness, you may also make an online gift.