Homeless prevention funding helps with mortgage payments
Last June, a woman who had cancer and was in financial distress asked Mahube Community Council for help catching up on her house payments.
Mahube's family development director Marcia Otte asked her how she plans to make payments after the organization pays the maximum allowed three months of mortgage payments.
The woman said she was expecting to die in three months anyway, and her husband would then be able to use her life insurance money to continue paying their bills.
"She just wanted to keep the house until she was gone," Otte said. "That was a circumstance that certainly happened and it was very, very sad."
The Minnesota Department of Human Services announced last week that the state received $23.5 million of the $1.5 billion Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program funding, authorized under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The stimulus money was administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Locally, a total of about $3.6 million in grants were awarded to Mahube Community Council, the organization serving Hubbard, Mahnomen and Becker counties.
The new two-year program - Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing - received $350,000 and began in October.
Mahube executive director Leah Pigatti said the program is intended to provide housing to currently homeless people or those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Money will be spent on rent, security deposits or emergency housing services.
Single adults, families and unaccompanied youth who are at or below 50 percent of the area median income qualify for assistance with up to 18 months of rent.
"We're working very hard to provide services to our communities," Pigatti said.
Under the new program, if clients would become homeless without monetary help, then they qualify for assistance.
Although $350,000 may seem like enough money to help the homeless around the region, Otte said with 18 months of ongoing rent, Mahube can run out of money quickly.
With more people losing their jobs this year, Mahube has worked with many individuals and families who have never applied for assistance before.
"This money will certainly help, but it will not be near enough to meet the demand," Otte said.
For those who don't qualify for the federal program, Mahube encourages them to seek other options. The organization could match clients with the program that best meets their needs.
"Will this be the answer to all of the problems?" Otte said. "No, but I think it's a start in the right direction."