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Homeless demand increasing, Mahube grant running thin

The increasing demand for homeless prevention has led Mahube Community Council to stop taking applications for the month of March in the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP).

Mahube was awarded $112,750 for the program last July. So far, almost $100,000 has been spent, and about 234 households served in Becker, Mahnomen and Hubbard counties -- a 50 percent increase from last year.

Because of fear of running out of money before the grant is renewed for its second half this July, the organization stopped taking applications last month.

"We knew it was going to be extremely important due to the economy," Mahube's Family Development Director Marcia Otte said.

With FHPAP funds, Mahube is able to assist with past due rent, first month's rent, deposits and mortgage payments.

According to figures from Mahube, Becker County residents received the most assistance out of all three counties -- about $42,000.

Although Mahube isn't able to pay mortgages that are several months behind, Otte said often times bundling up with other agencies helps homeowners keep their homes.

"It's never enough to help everybody," Otte said. "We don't want to see anyone lose their home."

Other housing assistance grants include the Bremer grant, which ran through January of this year and served 231 households with rent, deposits, mortgage payments, utilities, prescriptions, car repairs, car payments and insurance payments.

Another program --Transitional Housing -- began in 2009 and will run through 2011 for some clients if necessary. In that program, case workers work with clients until they get stabilized, but clients may stay in the program and receive help for up to 24 months.

Clients learn how to set goals and are given tools and advice on how to reach their goals -- the biggest is finding work to support their families.

"Case management is really important, otherwise they find themselves in the same boat after a few months," Otte said.

Additionally, the process of housing assistance can be complicated, which is why caseworkers are there to help.

"People that have never had to ask for help before are asking for help, and they're not familiar with how the system works," Otte said.

Other available programs include the Emergency Shelter Grant that has served 23 households since July 2009 and the Ending Long Term Homeless Grant, which served 36 households since July 2009.

For more information or assistance, call Mahube Community Council at 218-847-1385.