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Mahube lands big grant for homeless

Gov. Pawlenty has approved $10 million in grants to end long-term homelessness in Minnesota, and Mahube Community Council in Detroit Lakes will be receiving $1.7 million of that for homelessness in surrounding counties.

Mahube Executive Director Leah Pigatti said Mahube will be the fiscal agent and manage the project, and Hubbard County is the actual grantee.

"(The grant) is primarily for supportive services for homeless people," she said.

The grant is a partnership between Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, Mahnomen and Polk counties, and Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth reservations.

"We're in the process of starting it up," she said of the program.

The program is designed to help homeless people find a place to live, maintain a job and receive counseling if needed. It will spread over a two-year time period.

"We're quite sure this (the grant) will be renewed," she said. The $1.7 million is considered "seed" money to start the program.

Mahube's Family Development Director Marcia Otte said there weren't the facilities to care for the homeless before this grant.

"This will be more for support services, not necessarily direct services," she explained, like paying rent, security deposits, etc. It's more for teaching homeless people how to self-support.

"Ultimately, they'll learn not to go back to their old lifestyle," Pigatti added.

The local plan will provide "housing first" with a possible supportive housing unit near the Detroit Lakes Industrial Park.

Mahube served 191 households in six months in three counties for issues dealing with homelessness. It is hoping to serve at least 100 more with the grant.

In October, Otte participates in a statewide count of the homeless. It's a one-day survey where she calls anywhere homeless people may be, for example churches, hotels, etc.

She has been participating in the survey every three years since 1993. It is supported through the Wilder Foundation out of the Twin Cities.

The $1.7 million grant is part of a $10 million statewide grant to provide supportive housing services for 1,500 Minnesotans.

The southeast portion of Minnesota was granted $1.75 million, $1.5 million went to the northeast portion, $44,000 to the southwest and $5 million to the Twin Cities metro area.

"People who experience chronic homelessness need both support services and affordable housing," Pawlenty said in a press release. "The services funded by these grants will help us end long-term homelessness in our state."

The plan is to end long-term homelessness in Minnesota by 2010.

"At last count, approximately 3,300 Minnesotans, including 500 children, were experiencing long-term homelessness," said Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Commissioner Tim Marx.