Since 2006, Hubbard County and the MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership have teamed up to tackle homelessness.

Together, they are applying for a Long-Term Homeless Supportive Services Grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

They are seeking $1,882,985 for a two-year period to serve 318 long-term homeless households across 23 counties. The grant period begins Jan. 1, 2022.

Hubbard County is grantee and contracts with MAHUBE-OTWA to coordinate service delivery in north-central and northwestern Minnesota, explained MAHUBE-OTWA Executive Director Liz Kuoppala to the county board at their Oct. 19 meeting.

“We have approximately 18 people, at any given time, in Hubbard County who are long-term homeless that we’re working with,” Kuoppala said.

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Long-term homelessness is defined as those who have been homeless for a year or more or four times in the past three years, she said.

“The idea is it takes a lot of collaboration between housing authorities and landlords and county services. That’s what this grant is for,” Kuoppala said. “The county doesn’t pay anything.”

County Social Services Director Brian Ophus told the county board, if awarded, the grant “does really help out the county budget as well because we’re able to refer for services for this grant specifically that otherwise takes up some costs to the county.”

MAHUBE-OTWA would be paid $71,679 to administer the grant, award 10 subcontracts, monitor and evaluate subgrantees, and provide financial and programmatic reports to Hubbard County.

The grant calls for multi-disciplinary (housing, human services, corrections, etc), multi-sector (government, business, non-profit) and multi-jurisdictional (federal, state, and local) strategies to address long-term homelessness.

The grant pays primarily for case management services provided by nonprofit partners to connect long-term homeless households with services, housing and income to maintain their stability.

A key strategy is the “housing first model,” which places a priority on providing housing first without excessive preconditions such as sobriety, good credit, clean rental history records or lack of criminal history.

Part of the “magic” of this multi-county collaborative is that homeless people can be sent to shelters in partnering counties, Kuoppala said.

MAHUBE-OTWA’s approach is five-pronged. Housing is an immediate need, followed by getting the person connected to public and private services. The next phase involves coaching, goal setting, financial literacy, addressing recurring obstacles to success and building up assets, like savings accounts, but also connections to friends, family and faith communities.

“The more they can have built up supports around them, the more we can pull back our services and they’ll be good to stand on their own. Every person is different, but a core part of this is we’re trying to get every person employed and as self-sufficient as possible,” Kuoppala said.