Heading Home Hennepin Monthly Newsletter

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January 2021

Heading Home Hennepin Monthly Newsletter

The Heading Home Hennepin monthly newsletter aims to be a resource for the community of individuals that work to increase housing stability for residents of Hennepin County.



This month in the HHH Newsletter:

Featured Stories:

  • Vaccine update for people experiencing homelessness and service providers

  • Families accessing shelter has been on the decline, 2020 saw an even sharper reduction
  • First indoor tiny house shelter, Avivo Village, opens it doors

Continuum of Care Announcements:

  • Sheltered Point-In-Time (PIT) Count is happening, unsheltered count is not

  • New Minnesota HMIS Data Quality Monitoring Plan 

  • Opportunity to increase income for people experiencing homelessness

State of Minnesota News:

  • MN DHS: Resources Available to Provide Services for Opioid and Stimulant Use Disorders
  • Q & A with the Housing Stabilization Services Team

Community Resources:

  • Step Up youth employment program now enrolling
  • School District resources 


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Featured Stories


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Vaccine update for people experiencing homelessness and service providers

  • People experiencing homelessness and staff in shelter type living facilities are a part of phase 1a - priority 3. This includes: people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, shelter residents and staff, including hotels that are operating as shelters, and then board & lodges and permanent supportive housing residents.   
  • Currently the vaccine distribution is being finished up for group 1a - priority 2 and planning for 1a - priority 3 has begun.
  • Hennepin County is planning vaccine rollout to this population.  We are working closely with MDH, Hennepin Healthcare, the City of Minneapolis and Bloomington, and the Public Health Departments in Edina and Richfield. 

  • A plan will be communicated in the next couple of weeks. Potentially the rollout could start the first week of February. Everything is pending vaccine availability, which is difficult to predict!


Community-University Health Care Center - COVID-19 Vaccines Webinar Series focused on vaccine hesitancy  

CUHCC released an informative webinar: Unpacking Vaccine Hesitancy in the Era of COVID-19.  It provides information to help us feel confident talking to people about the COVID vaccine. 

Topics discussed:

  • Historical trauma & mistrust of the health care system
  • Vaccine technology
  • Debunking myths: does not change DNA or cause infertility
  • Recommendations for pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Side effects
  • Strategies to act on vaccine hesitancy

View webinar series here: https://cuhcc.umn.edu/education/cuhcc-learning-modules


Families accessing shelter has been on the decline, 2020 saw an even sharper reduction

Over the last 6 years, the number of families experiencing homelessness has steadily been on the decline in Hennepin County. From 2014 to 2020 the total number of families counted in the Point-In-Time Count has decreased by about 42%. This reduction significantly accelerated in 2020. On January 5th 2021, 48 families were sheltered in Hennepin County. Compared to this time last year, there are 98 fewer families or 383 fewer persons in family shelter - a reduction of about 67%. This dramatic decrease leaves family shelters at 42% capacity.

family shelter graph


Why the significant decrease?

There is no one reason contributing to the lower numbers, rather there are multiple contributing factors. According to Casey Schleisman, a Hennepin County Planning Analyst focused on Youth and Family Homelessness, the reasons likely range from programmatic improvements to the changing landscape due to the pandemic.

Contributing factors attributed to decreases since 2014: 

  • In 2016, the Coordinated Entry System was fully implemented, which prioritized housing resources for the families in the greatest need of help finding and sustaining housing.
  • In 2018, a family shelter diversion program was implemented as a partnership between Hennepin County and Catholic Charities. This program serves as an alternative option to entering family shelter and has served many families that that otherwise would have been in shelter. In late 2020, the partnership grew to include St. Stephens and continues to provide alternative options to family shelter.
  • The Stable Homes, Stable Schools Initiative is preventing and stabilizing families that may have otherwise gone into shelter.
  • Providers continue to enhance and increase their employment services, which directly impacts a family’s ability to increase their income to prevent and exit homelessness.

Contributing factors attributed to the sharp decrease in 2020:

  • In 2020, there have been more prevention resources secured through COVID-19 relief funding.
  • Due to COVID-19 concerns, some families have been hesitant to enter shelter.
  • A large contributor to a reduction in the number of families seeking shelter in 2020 has been the moratorium placed on evictions.  Hennepin County has been working closely with community partners to intentionally plan for the potential influx that may be caused when the moratorium is lifted.

Interested in tracking shelter trends?

The Weekly Shelter Report, shares a census of those experiencing homelessness in emergency shelters in Hennepin County. You can view the report on the Continuum of Care website, under the data and research drawer.  


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First indoor tiny house shelter, Avivo Village, receives first residents


Construction completion targeted March 2021

Avivo Village, the first indoor tiny house shelter community, was able to welcome its first 16 residents on December 30, 2020. Avivo Village is still under construction and aims to fully open March 2021. When it is at capacity, Avivo Village will offer shelter with wraparound supports to 100 individuals who were experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Avivo Villages has received funding from Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, the State of Minnesota and private philanthropy and individuals.



What can residents expect at Avivo Village?

Avivo's person-centered approach includes a radical welcome for new guests. The first day's experience is getting a handle on “just the basics”. There is connection to food during intake, hygiene supplies, linens, clothing, and snacks for later. Guests receive support in setting up their personal spaces and making their beds. On the second day, guests start a more in-depth with the intake process. They complete needs and wishes assessments as well as a cultural assessment. We discover what is important to and important for each individual.  

What have been reactions so far?

Resident guests are happy with comfortable beds and recliners in each personal space. They share they really like the food, long hot showers, access to free laundry, and getting to know new staff. There is always someone available to talk to!

How do people get into Avivo Village?

Individuals who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness are referred by provider outreach workers in Hennepin County. The referrals are made to Adult Shelter Connect which is managing a priority pool for Avivo Village.

Additional details?

Details about Avivo Village, including additional frequently asked questions, can be found on Avivo's website at http://avivomn.org/avivovillage. If you have specific questions, you may contact Kim Sheagren at kim.sheagren@avivomn.org 

To reserve an emergency shelter bed in Hennepin County:

  • Single Adults: 612-248-2350
  • Families: 612-348-9410
  • Youth: www.YSNMN.org 
Announcements icon

CoC Announcements


Sheltered Point-In-Time (PIT) Count is happening, unsheltered count is not

What you need to know:

  • This year’s PIT night is January 27, 2021
  • Due to the prioritizing of safety for outreach workers there will not be an unsheltered count 
  • All Emergency Shelter (ES), Safe Haven (SH), and Transitional Housing (TH) program must participate, regardless of funding source or HMIS participation

ES and TH agencies that participate in HMIS: Review the guidance provided by the Institute for Community Alliances (ICA). You will also want to be sure you have up-to-date data collection forms and that your data entry for everyone in your program on PIT night is complete and accurate.

ES and TH agencies or projects who do not or do not yet participate in HMIS: Your agency will be contacted by CoC staff from Hennepin County. In the mean time, make sure you have a plan to staff up for the PIT night. so you have capacity to administer the survey for everyone you serve that night. 


New Minnesota HMIS Data Quality Monitoring Plan 

CoC Coordinators and state partners met regularly throughout 2020 to develop a one-year monitoring pilot, beginning in January 2021. The responsibility for data quality review, provider communication, and targeted support and recognition is shared among them and supported by ICA. 

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The goal in this pilot is to try a new way of working together, making sure your successes are celebrated and that you have the support and resources needed for high-quality HMIS data entry.

When all stakeholders agree on the importance of data quality and commit to regular review and consistent communication and action, providers participating in the system benefit and data quality improves.

Read about the details, including the monitoring schedule, for the HMIS Data Quality Monitoring Plan here.


Join the CoC Employment and Income Committee!

The Employment and Income Committee for the CoC is recruiting new members for 2021. This committee strategizes different ways continuum of care programs can improve their ability to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness increase their income. It also builds awareness and knowledge of the importance of employment and income in preventing and reducing homelessness. 

Please complete the CoC Committee Joint Application Form and submit to Heidi.Boyd@hennepin.us. Contact Heidi with questions.

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State of Minnesota News 


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Resources Available to Provide Services for Opioid and Stimulant Use Disorders

The Department of Human Services (DHS), through its Housing and Support Services Division, is seeking proposals from qualified responders to provide support services to stabilize the housing of individuals, families, youth and veterans that are experiencing housing instability due to opioid or stimulant use disorder and who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness. The term of any resulting contract is anticipated to be from March 1, 2021 until September 29, 2022. The amount of funding available is two million dollars; one million for each of the two program years. Funds will be distributed to SOR projects in various geographic areas of the state. You can find all of the RFP materials here


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Caffeinated Q & A with the Housing Stabilization Services Team

Grab your favorite caffeinated (or decaffeinated) beverage and join the Housing Stabilization Services Team for question and answer sessions. If you have questions for the team, or just want to listen to the questions being asked and answered, please join us once a month starting in January 2021. We will be meeting from 10:00-11:30am. Each month we will focus on specific topics related to our services and answer topic-related questions first in our sessions.

1/13:Topic - Eligibility Requests.  Register here.

2/10: Topic - Tribes and Organizations that Serve Tribal Members.  Register here.

3/10: Topic - Conflict of Interest Requirements and Exceptions.  Register  here.

Each session will have CART or ASL available by request. Please email Laura Fox at laura.fox@state.mn.us to request CART or ASL at least three weeks prior to the session.

Email dhshousingstabilization@state.mn.us if you have questions about this message.


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Community Resources


Step Up flyer

(Click to Download flyer)


Hennepin County Public School Resource List

This district resource guide lists meals, technology, childcare, and other resources for cities throughout Hennepin County


School list doc

If you have resources, announcements, training, or events related to housing and homelessness that you want shared, contact eric.richert@hennepin.us

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