Anoka County has received more state dollars for its homelessness prevention and assistance program.
In late May the Anoka County Board accepted a $646,594 grant from Minnesota Housing for the time period of July 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2021.
That was a 5% increase over the previous biennium, according to Michele Reid, county housing program coordinator.
But the 2019 Minnesota Legislature appropriated an additional $4 million in base funding for Minnesota Housing, and $259,920 of that amount has been allocated to Anoka County, Reid said.
The County Board Oct. 22 amended its contract with Minnesota Housing to accept the additional grant dollars to bring the total award to $906,514.
That was the original amount the county requested from Minnesota Housing, and it’s 45-50% more than the county has been awarded in prior bienniums, according to Reid.
“We are thrilled,” Reid said. “It will enable us to serve more people.”
While the county program works with those who are both homeless and in danger of becoming homeless, the focus is on preventing homelessness, she said.
To do that, the County Board contracted with the Salvation Army and the Emma B. Howe YMCA for homelessness prevention and assistance services.
And with the additional dollars, the County Board Oct. 22 amended the contracts with both agencies allocating more money to both.
The Salvation Army contract maximum jumps from $428,018 to $620,446, while the YMCA contract amount increases from $207,914 to $258,082.
According to Reid, the Salvation Army serves adult singles and families, while the YMCA’s focus is on youth ages 18-24 as well as youth-headed families (parents aged 18-24 with minor children).
Both agencies provide prevention and rapid rehousing activities, Reid said. These include damage deposits, first month’s rent and support services to prevent households from becoming homeless and assisting them with moving into their own stable housing, if they are living with others, she said.
The rapid rehousing component includes housing search and placement, rental assistance and tenancy support to those who are currently homeless.
In addition, the Salvation Army is partnering with Mediation and Restorative Services of Anoka County for pre-eviction services, landlord/tenant mediation and education to prevent homelessness, Reid said.
According to Reid, 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).
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.
Minnesota Housing’s Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program was established in 1993 by the Minnesota Legislature.