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Homelessness reaches every corner of the region

WILLMAR -- Outreach staff at Heartland Community Action Agency Inc., which serves Kandiyohi, Meeker, McLeod, and Renville counties, meets with an average of 159 households each month who are either at risk of homelessness or already experiencing ...

WILLMAR - Outreach staff at Heartland Community Action Agency Inc., which serves Kandiyohi, Meeker, McLeod, and Renville counties, meets with an average of 159 households each month who are either at risk of homelessness or already experiencing it, said Jason Haug, Heartland outreach manager.
Of those households in a typical month, 97 are at risk of homelessness and 62 are already experiencing homelessness and in need of emergency shelter and rehousing services, such as help with a security deposit and first month’s rent, Haug said.
He said statewide “point-in-time’’ counts of homelessness conducted in January during each of the past three years have echoed these numbers.
“Over the past three counts, the number of households experiencing homelessness in our four counties has remained steady at 62 in 2012, 61 in 2013, and 60 in 2014,’’ he said.
“Just because many of us may not see or know someone experiencing homelessness in our community, that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist here. Homelessness and its consequences are very much present in our community,’’ Haug said.
Through Heartland’s Safe Harbor program, Heartland serves families and individuals experiencing homelessness through leased motel and apartment rooms. Heartland currently has five motel rooms in Willmar, two (soon to be three) apartments in Litchfield, and one leased motel room in Hutchinson.
Haug said Heartland has worked closely with Family Promise of Kandiyohi County over the past three to four years during the planning for Family Promise.
“We work very closely with other homeless service providers in our area, like Salvation Army, Kandiyohi County Family Services, Lutheran Social Service Youth Homeless Program, and Safe Avenues,’’ he said. “So we look forward to continuing to coordinate our efforts with Family Promise as well as they begin serving families in the next few months.’’
The point-in-time count can be read at: http://www.swmhp.org/coc/documents/PIT%20Summary%202014.pdf

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