When families started showing up in homeless shelters in the greatest numbers since the Great Depression, it was an “a-ha” moment for the United Way, says Marcia Fink, their director of Basic Needs.
They realized, Fink says, the need to fund market- rate rapid re-housing, which means helping fund the process of moving families from homeless shelters to non-subsidized housing in apartment buildings or single homes.
Already there was federal funding for moving folks into government-subsidized housing, but “there just weren’t resources for market-rate housing,” Fink says. All at a time when families were coming into shelters because they’d lost their homes due to personal mortgage problems or that of a landlord.
And the agency saw, too, the growth of youth homelessness, increasing 40 percent since 2006, and funding needs there as well.
All of which is background to the Greater Twin Cities United Way announcing today it is awarding grants totaling almost $14 million over a three-year period to 38 metro-area housing stability programs. That’s $4.6 million a year, about the same as last year, though allocated a little differently. About $750,000 goes to the rapid re-housing effort.
No surprise, the announcement comes as we approach August, traditionally the time when many employers around the Twin Cities ask employees to make United Way donations.
More than 7,000 individuals and families are expected to benefit metro-wide from the grants, including about 50 families involved with EMERGE Community Development in north Minneapolis.
EMERGE Villages and Fathers and Children Together programs focus on single fathers with custody of their children as well as families with both mother and father with the intent of helping families leave homelessness.
Families live in Camden Apartments in North Minneapolis, a cooperative effort with Project for Pride in Living. The program provides supportive services such as job training, parenting groups, financial education and afterschool and summer youth enrichment programs.
EMERGE President Mike Wynne says the organization will receive $75,000 annually for three years.
The funding, Wynne says, is very important “because United Way funding is some of the most stable around.”