Kateri Residence for Native American Women in Recovery to Close Next Year

Kateri Residence in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood.

Very sad news: In these most affluent of times — with the stock market at record levels and tax cuts for millionaires on the policy priority list — Kateri Residence, a program serving Native women in recovery, will close at the end of June. Kateri is a program of St. Stephens Human Services, and St. Stephens Executive Director Gail Dorfman said in an interview this morning that the program is no longer financially sustainable.

St. Stephens is working on a transition plan for the current residents and is trying to find a non-profit housing partner to keep the services going, she said

According to the Kateri website:

Kateri Residence is for Native American women (over 18 years old) recovering from addiction. Priority is given to Native American women that are pregnant, have small children in their custody and/or exiting treatment or corrections, but non-Native women may apply if willing to follow a program with this cultural emphasis.

(According to my friend Monica Nilsson’s Facebook post, Kateri “was the first program developed by the good people of Saint Stephen’s Catholic Church, now worshipping as the Spirit of Saint Stephens Catholic Community.”)

Kateri is a four-unit brownstone in the Whittier neighborhood (facing the I-35W sound barrier wall). Staff lives in one unit. The other three units are for women in recovery. Currently there are three single adults and four families in those three units. Women and families can stay for up to two years.

Kateri offers a wide range of supports: housing, recovery support, health care, parenting classes, help with employment, advocacy, connection with Native traditions, and more. But it does not offer on-site treatment. Women get that through other programs.

Kateri got by for many years primarily with government funding and small amounts of private giving. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Minnesota Department of Health provided money for housing subsidies and recovery support. The program always had a funding gap, but the gap was relatively small, Dorfman said.

One of the key financial supports was DHS’s Alcohol, Drug, and Other Addictions program. Dorfman said: “That money got cut in half, and now we have a much bigger gap.”

Dorfman explained the funding problem in a letter to staff and residents.

Government funding for housing programs has shifted over the past decade, with the emphasis on providing permanent housing rather than temporary transitional housing. Since Kateri is not a traditional chemical dependency program, chemical dependency funding has also been difficult to secure. Additionally, the building is over 100 years old and in need of significant improvements — funding for which is also scarce — and private foundations and individual donations have not been enough to help cover these costs. …

Funding the ongoing operations of Kateri is a challenge that we have just not been able to overcome. This is not a failure of our highly capable Kateri staff  or resilient Kateri residents. We have had to face the facts that we can no longer provide the housing and services that meet the standards of our organization and the needs of the residents at Kateri.

Dorfman said she is on the board of Alliance Housing, and she will be in discussion with them and other permanent housing providers to see if there is a way to keep Kateri going under a new structure.

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