City's expert on homelessness leaves job for state post

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January 14, 2013 // UPDATED 9:48 am - January 17, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Cathy ten Broeke
Sarah McKenzie

Cathy ten Broeke — the city’s point person on homelessness — has taken a new job with the state to lead efforts to end homelessness across Minnesota.

She served as the coordinator to end homelessness for Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis for seven years. She started her new job as the State Director to Prevent and End Homelessness today.

“Some communities in the state, like Hennepin County, have seen dramatic reductions in the number of long-term, chronically homeless individuals and families, in large part due to the state’s leadership,” ten Broeke said, adding her job will be to take the state “to the next level” in efforts to coordinate work among the public and private sector to make sure all people in the state have a roof over their head.

“There is so much commitment and talent in this state around ending homelessness,” she said. “My hope is to harness and coordinate all of the various efforts underway into one cohesive movement that will ensure we are successful.”

Lisa Thornquist is the interim director of the city/county Office to End Homelessness.

Ten Broeke said she’s proud of the office’s work bringing many different “partners to the table” — including city, county, business, faith and nonprofit leaders.

“I am particularly proud of the reductions we have made in veterans and chronic homelessness — over 50 percent reductions in both over the last few years,” she said.

Under her leadership, several initiatives and programs have be rolled out to help the homeless. More than a dozen Project Homeless Connect events have been held at the Minneapolis Convention Center — matching people with social services, employment information and medical care. The Currie Avenue Partnership, a group of business, faith, government and nonprofit leaders, has raised thousands for to house people with disabilities. Additionally, two opportunity centers have opened downtown — one for youth and one for single adults. The centers bring several agencies under one roof to help people experiencing homelessness.

Ten Broeke also recently returned from a three-month assignment in Washington, D.C., where she served as a special advisor to the executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. 

"With such strong federal partners, I truly believe we can end homelessness as we know it in Minnesota," she said. "And I think Minnesota will be the first to do it." 

The city and Hennepin County adopted a 10-year to plan end homeless in 2006. While street homelessness has dropped significantly, the recession, a tight vacancy rate for affordable housing and reduction in federal funding for homelessness prevention programs has caused an increase in homelessness among families.