The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is overseeing an effort to document the origins of our “modern era of homelessness.” Oral Historian Margaret Miles is interested in talking with anyone who was involved in or has a recollection of the SRO/hotel and urban renewal era (1940s-1970s) or the years that many shelters and other homeless services were created (1970s and 1980s).

Focus: Minnesota state-wide, from 1940s to no later than 1990.

Margaret would love to hear from:

  • People who funded, volunteered, served on committees, staffed, or otherwise participated prior to 1990 in services for people experiencing homelessness or poverty.
  • People who experienced homelessness for any reason up to 1990.
  • People who participated in or recollect urban renewal activities, the deinstitutionalization movement, worked with returning Viet Nam vets, or .were involved in other activities related to homelessness issues.
  • “Flophouses”, soup kitchens, clothes closets, drop-ins, shelters, NIMBY issues, urban renewal, missions, travelers aid, government relief programs, AFDC, “man-in-the-house” enforcement, CD & MI programming, and welfare rights organizing activities are some of the areas of interest.
  • Stories from all Minnesota communities large and small are all important! Photos, books, or other related materials would also be great to see.

If you know of someone who does not receive these emails, and would have stories or insights to contribute, please share this message with them or send Margaret their contact info. No recollection is too small or too vast! Margaret is also happy to hear from you on any topic related to homelessness prior to 1990 not mentioned here. Thanks so much for helping to document this important era.

Contact Project Manager: Margaret Miles 612-990-7149 or milesminneapolis@gmail.com.

This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund and from the Family Housing Fund.

Related: Click here to visit The Oral History of Homelessness website.