Hennepin County shelter response update,
Friday, May 8, 2020
Hennepin County has been preparing to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable residents, including those experiencing homelessness. The county continues to work with several area hotels and service providers to provide alternate housing for high-risk and sick residents who cannot isolate on their own.
Hennepin County first acted to establish alternative accommodations for high-risk residents at area hotels on Tuesday, March 17. To date, the county has allocated more than $6 million for protective and isolation housing for vulnerable residents.
As of Friday, May 8, there are 276 healthy but high-risk residents being housed at three area hotels, including 154 seniors, and 122 people with underlying health conditions.
On April 30, Catholic Charities and Salvation Army started moving more high-risk residents from their Higher Ground and Harbor Light Center shelters into a jointly operated hotel. As of Thursday, May 7, 179 people had moved to the hotel.
Also on April 30, Our Saviors and St. Stephen’s began moving their entire shelter population into a jointly operated hotel. They have moved their entire shelter population into the hotel which included over 120 people.
Eleven more residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being housed at a third hotel dedicated to isolation spaces.
A 55-room hotel also has been activated for families staying in shelter, who have symptoms of COVID-19. Hennepin County is also working with People Serving People, St. Anne’s Place of Haven Housing and Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative to run the shelter. As of Friday, no families had been placed at that hotel.
In total, 187 residents at protective and isolation hotels have been tested.
Hennepin County emergency rental assistance
The Hennepin County Board allocated $15 million for emergency rental assistance for low-income residents.
Low-income households and households of color have been disproportionately impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19. Many low-income renter households are working in the industries that have lost the most jobs due to COVID-19. To address these disparities, funds will be targeted to renters with incomes below 50 percent of the area median income.
This funding is expected to help 9,000 low-income Hennepin County residents maintain stable housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board previously approved $740,000 to fund emergency housing assistance for renters and homeowners.
Rent assistance for suburban residents is currently available, and help for Minneapolis renters is coming later this month.
Restrooms and hand-washing stations
Public and private partners have made restrooms and hygiene stations available for people who are experiencing homelessness.
Note: As of Friday, May 8, the public restroom at the South Minneapolis Human Services building is no longer available for public use, due to under-utilization.
Legal guidance and resources for renters
While evictions are not currently allowed under Governor Walz’s Peacetime Emergency order, rent is still due. LawHelpMN.org has compiled helpful information about renters’ rights during the pandemic and has legal aid available for tenants.
Hennepin County resource helpline
If you’re affected by COVID-19, you can call this number for help with clothing, financial assistance, grocery and household supplies, medical care and equipment, or medication.