This action is for the purpose of adding crisis outreach and housing navigation services for individuals and families experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Hennepin County the end of 2020. The health and safety risks for this group are greatly exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. In order to mitigate the risks of community spread of COVID-19 to this population, these efforts and services will increase the speed and effectiveness with which they are engaged and brought into shelter and housing programs. Services will be specifically focused with populations that are disproportionately affected. Native Americans are vastly overrepresented among those experiencing unsheltered homelessness within Hennepin County relative to general population representation.
In order to meet this need, this action would have extra housing and navigation services added to culturally specific organizations with experience in delivering outreach and housing services to this population, that are already engaged in delivering services to this population during the pandemic and who have existing contracts to do so through Hennepin County. Two organizations meet this standard, the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC) and the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC).
Hennepin’s January 2020 unsheltered Point-in-Time Count recorded 642 people staying outside, of whom 145 identified as Native. While the services provided through these contracts would be available to anyone meeting their eligibility guidelines, regardless of race or political affiliation, they will be promoted and targeted to those requesting and likely to benefit from culturally specific services.
Funding these agencies through these contract actions would allow both agencies to add staff to focus on outreach, engagement and shelter and housing navigation and placement. This will include connections to the Coordinated Entry System and other mainstream and supportive housing options.
Caseloads for the new full-time equivalent workers at any one time would be relatively modest due to the intensive needs and high incidence of co-occurring substance use disorder and mental and physical health conditions that disproportionately impact people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Adding two staff positions at each agency – a total of four new FTEs engaged in this work – would allow for many of those experiencing unsheltered homelessness to benefit from a dedicated outreach worker at any one time. And, over this six-month period, a significant share of this population will have benefitted from these services. This funding will also support some related supplies and emergency assistance.
Outcomes will include:
Reduce the length of time people experience unsheltered homelessness;
- Provide life-saving crisis outreach. including leveraging healthcare resources and emergency indoor shelter;
- Increase service connections and support for vulnerable unsheltered people;
- Increase services to communities disparately impacted by homelessness and, in particular, by unsheltered homelessness; and
Increase the rate of housing acquisition among the target population and reduce returns to homelessness.