Anoka County has received state funding to continue its homeless prevention and assistance program.

Minnesota Housing has awarded the county $646,594 for the two years.

“It’s a 5% increase over the last biennium,” said Michele Reid, county housing program coordinator.

The grant provides funding for direct, temporary financial assistance – for example, damage deposits and rents – to reduce the number of people who become homeless. It also funds support services for families, singles and youth under the age of 25 who are at risk of homelessness or are homeless, according to Reid.

Support services include helping eliminate barriers to housing, education, budgeting and housing navigation.

Minnesota Housing requires the county to have a coordinated entry process to provide the homeless or people at risk of homelessness with an assessment, information and connection to resources as well as a rapid rehousing component for households to quickly exit homelessness and find permanent housing.

The county contracts with vendors to provide the services, a process that began in July 2018 when a request for proposals was sent out to those agencies interested in taking part in the program, according to Reid.

Four nonprofits submitted applications, and a selection committee comprising Heading Home Anoka Housing Collaborative members not competing for the funds chose three agencies for funding – Salvation Army, Emma B. Howe YMCA and Mediation and Restoration Services of Anoka County, Reid said.

While the Salvation Army and the YMCA have been funded in the current two-year grant cycle, Mediation and Restorative Services is new to the program, she said.

Mediation and Restorative Services staff will meet with tenants and landlords in an effort to resolve issues that could result in evictions of tenants, Reid said. “The goal is to keep them in their housing,” she said.

Contracts with the three agencies will first go to the County Board’s Human Services Committee and the full board for approval in June, she said.

A point-in-time survey in Anoka County Jan. 23 found 350 people were homeless, 196 of them households, either in shelters (emergency shelter or transitional housing), unsheltered (living outside, on the streets or in places not meant for human habitation) or doubled up (people living with others), according to Reid.

They included 120 children under the age of 18, 60 young adults ages 18 to 24, and 170 adults over the age of 24, Reid said.

The Heading Home Anoka Housing Collaborative is the local planning group working to end homelessness in the county. It comprises county staff, nonprofit organizations, residents and businesses and meets the second Wednesday of each month.

Minnesota Housing’s Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program was established in 1993 by the Minnesota Legislature.

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