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Grants bolster emergency shelter services, expand outreach

Grantees combat homelessness in Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota

11/8/2019 2:00:58 PM

Just as temperatures have begun to drop and homeless Minnesotans are finding themselves in greater need, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has awarded nearly $3 million in Emergency Services Program grants to strengthen shelter services and increase outreach to people living on the streets.

The grants are going to 25 organizations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and Greater Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Legislature approved the one-time funding during the 2019 legislative session. It supplements $1.7 million already appropriated to the Emergency Services Program. 

“The availability of safe, stable, and affordable housing is essential year-round, but especially during Minnesota’s cold winter months,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “The Emergency Services Program grants will help organizations serve those most in need so they can get back on their feet and secure stable housing. We will continue working with our partners, including the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, to prevent or end homelessness in Minnesota.”

Between 2015 and 2018, the number of homeless Minnesotans who did not access formal shelter services increased 62%, according to Wilder Research. The new one-time funds are intended to help reverse that trend. They were designated for service and operation costs associated with emergency shelters and street outreach programs. Construction and renovation projects to expand the number of beds available in homeless shelters were ineligible for this funding. 

About $2 million of the one-time funding will go toward serving people in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and $1 million will go toward serving people in Greater Minnesota, to match the distribution of homeless individuals in the state. 

Yet to be awarded is $300,000 to increase the availability of culturally specific services for the American Indian community in the Twin Cities. DHS, along with Minnesota Housing, is working with tribal advisors to solicit input from American Indian providers, tribal governments and people who are homeless about how these funds could best be used to address unmet needs in their communities.

Learn more about how DHS is addressing homelessness in its Homelessness in Minnesota fact sheet (PDF).

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