MINO OSKI AIN DAH YUNG
Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung in St. Paul, MN, has won a 2020 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Special Needs Category.
In Minnesota, 2 percent of the population is American Indian, yet represent 22 percent of all homeless youth. Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung (“Good New Home” in Ojibwe), developed by Project for Pride in Living and designed by partner Ain Dah Yung Center, is a first-of-its-kind project that provides 42 new homes and supportive services to formerly homeless American Indian youth between the ages of 18 and 24. On-site services provide a place of healing and resources to establish self-determination as young Native people.
The property includes 24-hour front desk staffing, community kitchens, group activity spaces, a fitness center, healthcare and therapy spaces, and a clothing closet and food shelf that provide necessities when residents’ monthly income isn’t enough to meet their needs. There is a mini merchandise store for youth to make purchases through a voucher program and participate in an entrepreneurship program to develop additional workforce skills. The property also includes a cultural community center to accommodate Native ceremonies; a Native cultural activities center, where youth have space to make regalia, beadwork, and ceremonial drums; a sweat lodge for ceremonial sweats; and a medicine garden to grow traditional medicines used in ceremonies. Circular gather spaces on each floor, including a first-floor Native art gallery for families and guests, and an outdoor water element provide additional space for Native teachings.
On-site staff speak Native languages and have a deep understanding of American Indian traditions, incorporating these traditions into the on-site services they provide, including community-building, educational guidance, family reunification, financial management, job and life skills training, and mental health services. Partners provide additional services, including benefits assistance, chemical dependency services, and education assistance. Each youth is also provided with a transition coach to guide them through individualized case plans, ensuring that participants can thrive after leaving the program.
The project is across the street from rapid transit, bus lines, dedicated bikeways and many other resources for youth, such as employment, educational opportunities, retail, and grocery stores, along with medical services. Vacancy rates for other rental properties in the area are low, speaking to the need for affordable options in the neighborhood. The new development is also helping drive “placemaking” in the community with a vibrant, attractive design that elevates the influence of American Indian culture. It offers space for the broader community to engage in activities and meetings, and the state-of-the-art Cultural Training Center can be utilized by a variety of local organizations, as well as American Indian Tribes, Nations and Bands.
Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung features a unique Native-inspired design that stands in stark contrast to the institutions that many of its young residents have experienced in the past and blends with the diverse cultural and commercial businesses in the surrounding community. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) was used to finance this property, with syndication provided by National Equity Fund, Inc.
Remarks from U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN)
“I’ve often said that if you don’t have a safe, affordable place to call home, nothing else in your life works,” said Senator Tina Smith (D-MN). “For youth experiencing homelessness, not having a place to live can limit opportunities, compound struggles, and cause problems that last a lifetime. That’s why I’m celebrating the Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung housing development in St. Paul and what it means for Native youth who can now receive culturally-competent services and maintain stable housing at the same time. Projects like this one are why I support the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which I helped finance this development last year. And it’s why I’m so pleased that Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung is being recognized as an excellent example of work to increase access to affordable housing.”
Hear more from Senator Smith in her congratulatory video below.
Remarks from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
“I want to thank the Ain Dah Yung Center and Project for Pride and Living for coming together on this amazing development. This recognition honors your outstanding commitment to expanding affordable housing and serving our Native American community in the Twin Cities. For 36 years, you have been on the front line, serving American Indian families who have experienced homelessness and offering programs reconnecting them to their heritage, “said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “I am a proud co-sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which will expand and strengthen the Housing Credit. This legislation would provide over 600,000 additional affordable homes across the country over the next 10 years and is a common-sense step forward to addressing the housing crisis. And I will continue to work with my colleagues until the Affordable Housing Improvement Act is passed and signed into law. Together with your help, we can get this done.”
Hear more from Senator Klobuchar in her congratulatory video below.
Remarks from U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN-04)
“I want to congratulate the Ain Dah Yung Center and Project for Pride in Living on winning the Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award. Many years of intense discussion and work with the community have resulted in a beautiful home for Native American youth in our community,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN-04). “Providing a place to call home that is safe, supportive and honors culture is important. While too many Native youths have lost connection to their culture, traditions and language, Ain Dah Yung is nurturing and supporting. It is a setting that is rooted in Native culture and identity… I pledge to continue working with you to ensure that all our Native brothers and sisters, young and old, have every opportunity to succeed.”
Hear more from Congresswoman McCollum in her congratulatory video below.