by Joni Astrup
A count of the number of homeless people in Sherburne County is set for Jan. 26.
Hanna Klimmek of the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership said the annual “point in time” count attempts to tally the number of unsheltered homeless individuals and families. She said it’s a snapshot of what homelessness looks like on one night.
Unsheltered individuals include those staying outside or in places like cars and dwellings without utilities.
This is different from a count of people in shelters which is organized by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, she said.
Last year’s count of unsheltered people found six in Sherburne County, Klimmek told the Elk River Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) on Jan. 3. However, she said they didn’t get a good count but she’s hopeful this year’s count will be better.
“(But) no matter what it’s never going to be realistic,” she said. “Some people don’t want to be found or they just really don’t want services or don’t need services.”
Klimmek said there are 13,100 homeless people in shelters and unsheltered on any given night in Minnesota. A large number of them are children.
“All the shelters are full right now,” Klimmek said. “There is not enough shelter. A lot of those people are couch hopping — friends to friends to friends to relative to relative to relative. That does not last very long. You burn a lot of bridges and that’s when you find yourself out on the street.”
HRA Commissioner Larry Toth wondered if the homelessness issue is primarily in the metro area.
Klimmek said a “good chunk” of homeless people are in the metro area but that rural homelessness is a huge problem.
“I call them the hidden homeless,” she said.
HRA Chair Stewart Wilson asked Klimmek about projects that have helped address the homelessness issue.
Klimmek listed a number of them, including apartments for people with chemical dependency issues and transitional housing.
Klimmek is the central Minnesota Continuum of Care coordinator. The Central Minnesota Housing Partnership’s Continuum of Care program is a network of organizations, businesses and residents that work together with the primary goal of alleviating homelessness in central Minnesota. For more information, go to www.cmhp.net.
by Joni Astrup