Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)


"Sacred Settlement" model from Settled builds small home communities -as an alternative to encampments - on church-owned properties


MINNEAPOLIS - Among many issues raised by recent civil unrest in the Twin Cities, there is one practical, unanswered question: what to do with the plywood?

A Twin Cities nonprofit is seeking used building material to help address another crisis: homelessness. Settled, a Twin Cities homeless advocacy group, led by co-founders Gabrielle Clowdus and Anne Franz, as well as a team of social workers, social scientists, business strategists, product developers, counselors, pastors, homemakers and home-builders, has spent the last year moving forward with plans to build tiny house communities (called "Sacred Settlements") on church properties.

Excess plywood and OSB boards - previously used to protect businesses in many Twin Cities neighborhoods - will make a welcome donation to the group's home building efforts. To donate plywood or other materials, call 512.788.0344 to arrange pick up or drop off.

The nonprofit developed a tiny home model within a "Sacred Settlement," offering residents private space within a community - but sharing kitchen and dining spaces, bathrooms, laundry, gardens, workshops and gathering areas. The Settlement land is managed by a religious organization to maintain standards for safety and welfare. Critical to the success of the program is the presence of community advocates and specially-trained volunteer neighbors - missionals - who live alongside the formerly unhoused to ensure a thriving settlement. Settled's use of church property reduces or eliminates the cost of land to enable development, and is protected under a federal land use law.

The organization is in final approval for a test pilot settlement in St. Paul to be installed before winter. In January, Settled announced its first partnership, with Faith Lutheran in Forest Lake, Minn.

"This is an opportunity for us to turn something that once protected windows and is no longer being used into something extremely valuable - snug, comfortable homes to protect our unhoused population, which is even more fragile in these uncertain times," says Settled co-founder Gabrielle Clowdus, a PhD candidate in housing and research fellow at the University of Minnesota Center for Design.

Settled's Community-First approach to ending homelessness includes connecting residents with sustainable housing, purposeful work, and a supportive community. The Settled model solution relies on faith-based organizations for multiple resources: the zoning-exempt sites for its tiny houses, and the fellowship of church members willing to mentor and support the formerly homeless in forming a community.

Settled is a collective relentlessly pursuing home with the homeless through sustainable housing, purposeful work and supportive community. The group's Community Firstapproach provides affordable housing options by holistically meeting relational and social needs. By partnering with faith communities to develop and manage settlements on religious land, Settled creates communities that thrive, provides dignified work opportunities, and equips volunteers to help people coming out of homelessness meet their own personal goals. For more information, and to volunteer and donate, visit


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