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MAHUBE-OTWA receiving $1.5M grant to tackle homelessness

MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership was awarded a $1,573,192 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Hubbard County serves as the fiscal agent for the grant, so interim County Social Services Director Megan Mohs sought approval from the county board last week.

The grant will fund services in 22 counties in north-central and northwestern Minnesota, including Hubbard, Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Mahnomen and Wadena counties. The two-year grant runs from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021.

The grant agreement requires MAHUBE-OTWA to provide support to at least 534 households (1,600-plus beneficiaries) of families, single adults or unaccompanied youth in the 22-county area.

“This particular grant is for the most severe of all the homeless issues we see,” Mohs said.

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The goal of the grant is to provide “intensive support services and housing” to the population with the most barriers to finding and remaining in stable housing. These barriers may include abuse, neglect, chemical dependency, mental illness, cognitive limitation, chronic health problems and other factors, according to Mohs’ written report.

The grant also aims “to reduce the inappropriate use of deep-end services, such as the emergency room, jail and foster care.”

The board unanimously approved the grant agreement.

$100,000 contested bill

After a nine-month battle, Mohs said she learned the county lost a contested county financial responsibility appeal, “and so we’ll be receiving a large bill for an in-patient hospitalization.”

Mohs said she didn’t not know the invoice total, “but it could be as much as a $100,000.”

If the bill is received before the end of year, she said social services would pay it with 2019 funds.

“We feel we’ve exhausted our appeals at this point, and we’re going to get stuck with the bill,” she said.

Hubbard County is using social services reserves to offset the payable 2020 levy. Mohs said this is a perfect example of unexpected expenses during the course of a year. In this case, “we thought we’d win. We certainly had the support of attorneys in appealing, and it was not decided in our favor, so out of the blue we’ve got a big bill we’re going to have to pay,” she said.

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Heartland Express contract

In related business, the board approved a contract renewal between the Heartland Express and the Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center.

Mohs explained the Heartland Express provides a weekday bus to bring clients to the DAC. “So rather than the DAC having to add an additional bus and driver, they just contract with us to do it at a lower cost,” she said.

The contract renewal was for the existing rate of $185 per day for approximately eight clients. The term is for one year, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.

“Nearly 100 percent of the individuals with developmental disabilities who utilize the DAC are clients of Hubbard County Social Services,” Mohs noted in her written report, “and receive mandated services there paid for by state and federal governments, as well as the county, in some cases.”

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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