First-of-its-Kind Affordable Housing Development for Native American Youth Opens in Saint Paul

November 21st, 2019

Prior Lake, Minn. – The Ain Dah Yung Center yesterday celebrated the grand opening of its new Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung Permanent Supportive Housing facility. The first-of-its-kind facility will provide critical culturally responsive housing and services to Native American youth experiencing homelessness.

Though only 2% of the Minnesota population is Native American, a staggering 22% of all homeless youth are Native. Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung (meaning “good new home” in Ojibwe) seeks to address this crisis by offering housing to Native youth ages 18-24 years old, an age where youth typically phase out of supportive services. The 42-unit facility includes a medicine garden, sweat lodge and cultural activities center where residents can practice and learn about traditional Native teachings and arts such as beading, quill work, drum making and regalia.

“We cannot continue to only respond to youth who are in crisis; we must use a comprehensive approach that encompasses their entire circumstances and network,” said Deb Foster, executive director of the Ain Dah Yung Center. “This new facility will be a place where holistic cultural services, programs and healing take place, a place where dreams are realized and homelessness ends, 42 young people at a time.”

The Ain Dah Yung Center partnered with Twin Cities nonprofit Project for Pride in Living on the development and property management of the facility. The $17.5 million project received support from public and private funders, including the City of Saint Paul, Metropolitan Council, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC).

The SMSC was the largest private donor, contributing a total of $700,000 toward the building’s infrastructure and cultural programs. In addition, the tribe’s initial $100,000 donation was leveraged to secure $750,000 in public funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

“Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung will help support Native youth throughout the region, giving them an opportunity to finish school, find gainful employment and learn how to be independent,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “This facility is a perfect example of the innovative investments in Indian Country that our tribe is proud to support.”

American Indian culture is not only the hub of all the services the facility provides but was also incorporated in the design of the building itself. Developed by the Ain Dah Yung Center in partnership with Project for Pride in Living, Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung was designed by Native architect Mike Laverdure of DSGW Architects to fit the needs of its young Native residents. The facility incorporates a tipi-inspired design honoring the Sioux communities of Minnesota and seven totems that represent the Seven Teachings of the Anishinaabe culture. The rear of the building also features a design reminiscent of a star quilt.

“We know investing in young people experiencing homelessness has long-term positive outcomes for both the young person and for our community,” says Paul Williams, president & CEO of Project for Pride in Living. “With the creation of 42 much-needed units of safe, supportive housing, we will increase economic opportunities and equity for American Indian youth in a culturally responsive way. Every detail of Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung is designed to give our Native youth an opportunity to attain their sense of identity and pride as young American Indians.”

Photos from Wednesday’s grand opening event are available upon request.

About the Ain Dah Yung Center
The Ain Dah Yung Center (ADYC) is a nationally recognized agency that since 1983 has been moving American Indian youth and families toward success and self-reliance through culturally responsive programs including emergency shelters, transitional housing, prevention programming, mental health services, family advocacy, street outreach, Indian Child Welfare Act court monitoring and legal support, as well as leading systems change efforts within county child welfare and youth housing recruitment structures. And now, providing leadership within the Native youth permanent supportive housing arena. ADYC is a champion in connecting Native youth and families with their cultural legacy thus creating spaces for healing, growth and self-determination.

About Project for Pride in Living
Founded in 1972, Project for Pride in Living (PPL) empowers thousands of individuals and families with lower incomes to reach self-reliance through affordable housing, employment readiness and job placement. We work together with participants to create vibrant, equitable and diverse communities filled with residents who have achieved stability and are contributing to the regional economy. Last year alone, more than 13,000 people moved into affordable housing, earned higher incomes, improved their academic skills and gained economic independence with the help of PPL. Learn more:

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Dakota tribal government located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to other tribal governments and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County and attract millions of visitors to the region.


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Learn More About the SMSC

Read about our people or visit our frequently asked questions for additional information about the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

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Jennifer Hellman