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Story of the Year

In 2017, the Center for Changing Lives opened in Duluth, becoming the city's first-ever facility to offer long-term supportive housing for formerly homeless youth. It also has vastly expanded the availability and range of life skills training and other services to help prevent hundreds of young people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Conceived and operated by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), the Center is emblematic of Duluth’s determination to connect teens and young adults with opportunities that will give them a boost toward a brighter future. It’s also representative of LISC’s role in Duluth—in this case by supporting dedicated nonprofits like LSS that have the heart and conviction to develop facilities and programs that change lives, but need technical and financing support to make them reality.

LISC first got involved with the Center seven years ago by providing LSS a zero-percent interest, predevelopment loan of more than $38,000 for the design and planning of the mixed-use supportive housing and office facility. Because LSS, a strong and respected service provider, was relatively new to housing development, LISC also connected the group to other potential financing, and helped secure public and private grants and donations from local and state sources.

LISC's loan was renewed several times to keep the project moving forward, and when it hit stumbling blocks common to large development undertakings (including staff turnover, loss of the original site and a switch to a new funding model), LISC was there to support LSS. LISC's housing tax credit affiliate, the National Equity Fund, also provided technical assistance to help LSS apply for and secure funding.

Years of hard work and collaboration finally paid off: now, there's a brand new, airy, three-story center on an infill site in Hillside, a neighborhood where LISC has long invested. The Center for Changing lives sits on a bus line, and has easy access to a grocery store, a pharmacy, health care centers and schools. For an estimated 120 youth in Duluth who have no place to sleep on any given night, and for hundreds of at-risk teens, there's a place to go for help. The extensive, one-on-one services provided at the Center and by other Duluth partners are helping the city achieve its goal of ending youth homeless.

"I think Duluth is closer than any community I know to being able to accomplish that goal,” said Jodi Harpstead, executive director of LSS. “And there's no question that LISC’s support has helped us get that much closer."

Photo credit: Happy Tree Productions


Since 1997

$84 million
total investment

$330 million

affordable homes
& apartments

863,536 sq. ft.
commercial &
community space

2017 Funders

Private Sector Support

Public Sector Support


Executive Director: Pam Kramer

202 W. Superior Street, Suite 301
Duluth, MN 55802

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