May Heading Home Hennepin Newsletter: Learn about CoC updates

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May 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:


  • Get rent help:
  • 2020 family emergency shelter utilization report 

Hennepin CoC Updates:

  • A collaborative forms to maximize the impact of funds towards ending homelessness

  • HUD issues new Emergency Housing Vouchers 

  • Strategies to Improve Point-in-Time (PIT) Counts of Unsheltered Homelessness

Hennepin County Updates:

  • Hennepin County Board action aims to increase housing outcomes for people experiencing homelessness

  • Job opportunity: Applications now being accepted for Office to End Homelessness Area Manager

  • New Hennepin County unsheltered homelessness planner

  • Hennepin County approves record $17.1M for affordable housing projects

Community Resources:

  • Minnesota Housing is seeking your input on the 2022-2023 Affordable Housing Plan

  • Housing Justice Center: Renters reclaim the record 
  • Heading Home Corps is looking to partner with organizations who provide services to people experiencing homelessness


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Get Rent Help


Hennepin County residents struggling to pay their rent and utility bills because of the pandemic may qualify for help through RentHelpMN. Qualified applicants could receive up to 15 months of assistance dating back to the start of the pandemic and up to three months of future expenses.

Residents can apply today at or by calling 211 if you have questions.


2020 Family shelter utilization report


Every quarter of the year, Hennepin County reports on the utilization of the family emergency shelters. The report examines three metrics:

  • Number of households entering shelter (rare)
  • Length of time in shelter (brief)
  • Number of households that returned to shelter (non-recurring) 

The goal of reporting on these metrics quarterly is to measure progress towards making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring for families in Hennepin County. 

Shelter utilization graph

Comparing 2020 to 2019

From 2019 to 2020, the number of households in shelter has decreased by 66% and the number of households that have returned to shelter has decreased by 65%, while the length of stay in an emergency shelter for families has increased by 38%. The decrease of households in family shelters continues a year on year trend that has been seen since 2014.

Q1 shelter utilization


Possible factors leading to fewer families accessing shelter

The addition of diversion services, which problem solve and support families accessing shelter, along with the alignment of housing opportunities through coordinated entry system, and the enhancement of employment services all combined to offer improved outcomes for families.  

In 2020, changes associated with the Covid-19 pandemic likely further exacerbated the trend of fewer families accessing shelter. These changes include the declaring of an eviction moratorium, an influx of rental and housing assistance funds, and the concern over the possible spread of Covid-19 in an emergency shelter.

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Hennepin CoC Updates:


A collaborative forms to maximize the impact of funds towards ending homelessness

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a time of crisis and now immense opportunity to make lasting, positive change in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in our community.  Since May of 2020, the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has worked closely with HUD TA (Abt Associates) to respond to Covid-19 and to coordinate response efforts to the largest ever influx of federal funds towards ending homelessness through the CARES Act and now the American Rescue Plan, as well as several critical state and local investments that have and will be made to further enhance these investments.

Starting in late February of 2021, Hennepin County’s Housing Stability team and HUD TA have convened a Covid-19 Housing Collaborative (CHC), which includes state, local and philanthropic funders, to strategically coordinate and maximize the impact of these stimulus response funding opportunities. The CHC has developed shared goals, a shared mission and vision, as well as shared values, which will guide their investments of these funds. The two goals of the CHC are to: 1) permanently house an additional 2,000 households by September 30, 2022 and 2) increase shelter diversion efforts by 1,000 households by September 30, 2022. 

The CHC will expand this summer to include a Lived Expertise Advisory Group (LEAG). The goal of the LEAG is to ensure that people with lived expertise, particularly members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities (BIPOC), are at the table with funders to make funding decisions, and to ensure that no work towards ending homelessness happens in this community without the voice of and the shared power of people with lived expertise.  

We’re excited to share more about this work in the weeks ahead and will send out an update soon. 


HUD issues new Emergency Housing Vouchers 

On May 5th, HUD issued a notice that designated a proposed amount of Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) to a select group of Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). This notice requires that a partnership be created between the PHA’s and local Continuum’s of Care (CoC’s). The EHV's will be administered through the coordinated entry system (CES) and follow the policies that govern CES. As lead agency of the CoC Hennepin County is working with our local Housing Authorities to bring these vouchers to our community.

Learn more here: We will also provide updates in this newsletter as more information comes available.  


U of M Humphrey

Strategies to Improve Point-in-Time (PIT) Counts of Unsheltered Homelessness: An Evaluation of Hennepin County's Current Approach and Summary of Lessons Learned from Other Communities

The Hennepin County Office of Housing Stability requested assistance from students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to conduct a study about how best to reform and improve their point-in-time (PIT) count of people experiencing homelessness. The Hennepin County Continuum of Care's (CoC’s) PIT counts of both sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness contribute to the determination of federal funding received to support the County’s population experiencing homelessness .Read full report here.

See past University of Minnesota Capstone projects in the Data and Research section of the Heading Home Hennepin website.


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Hennepin County Updates


Board action aims to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness

On April 20, 2021, the Hennepin County Board allocated $14.1 million in federal funding to increase resources and supports for residents who are experiencing homelessness.

In 2020, our community moved 2,165 people from homelessness into permanent housing. This achievement demonstrates that our system and programs work to end homelessness for many people. This action will help our system and programs to better support remaining needs by funding:

  • 26 new staff to provide case management
  • Flexible direct assistance for housing- and moving-related costs
  • Employment skills development and help with job placement and retention

Housing-focused case management

The new case management positions will focus on meeting needs by providing housing-focused case management services to people as they transition from sheltered and unsheltered homelessness into permanent housing. 

Employment to support permanent housing 

People transitioning to permanent housing need to earn an income that meets basic needs to maintain their housing and achieve self-sufficiency. Access to meaningful employment services with an intentional focus on readiness, skills training and occupational learning will help people find and keep jobs. The federal funds will provide employment services and training for approximately 200 people transitioning to permanent housing with help from contracted providers.



Job opportunity: Applications now being accepted for Office to End Homelessness Area Manager

The Human Services and Public Health (HSPH) department of Hennepin County seeks an Office to End Homelessness Area Manager to strategically lead and oversee efforts related to the homeless response system within the broader Hennepin County Housing Stability Area. This role will be responsible for managing a team of 10 or more full time staff and a budget of $10 million or higher.

This role will focus on achieving three critical goals:

  • Increase exits from homelessness to permanent housing.
  • Reduce unsheltered homelessness.
  • End chronic and veteran homelessness.

Posting closes on 5/18/2021 11:59 PM Central.

View job opportunity here. 

New Hennepin County unsheltered homelessness planner

The County is pleased to announce that Erin Wixsten is the new planner for unsheltered homelessness and encampments response coordination.  Erin began this work on April 12 and is working to develop and lead strategies to increase the speed and number of exits to positive destinations, particularly permanent housing, from unsheltered settings.  To accomplish this she will collaborate with other county staff, City of Minneapolis staff, and community partners that are part of our homeless response system in Hennepin County.  She is especially collaborating with the City and with outreach teams to ensure that people experiencing homelessness in encampments and other unsheltered situations are able to access the services and housing they need.

Erin brings extensive experience and expertise in working with people who experience homelessness, and with related community stakeholders.  She has most recently worked in communities across the country, providing Continuum of Care and local government consulting on CoC Planning, encampment response, Coordinated Entry evaluation, HUD compliance and program evaluation.  Before that, she spent several years with The Link, most recently as their Housing and Homeless Services Division Director.  Erin is a graduate of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.  Please welcome her as part of our team addressing homelessness here in the Heading Home Hennepin community.



Hennepin County approves record $17.1M for affordable housing projects

On Tuesday, May 11, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, approved $17.1 million to support 27 affordable housing and development projects—the largest amount of funding ever awarded by the board at once to support affordable housing. Read more here.



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Community resources and events


MN Housing Finance

Minnesota Housing is seeking your input on the 2022-2023 Affordable Housing Plan.

You can provide your input by responding to this short survey. The survey shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes and will remain open through Friday, May 21. 


renters reclaim the record flyer

As part of their newly launched Renters Reclaim the Record project, Housing Justice Center is working with renters statewide who have recently been denied housing. HJC aims to improve a person's chances of getting into housing, in spite of tenant screening processes that disproportionately impact BIPOC applicants. With the help of an attorney, renters can learn the reason for their denial, challenge the denial, and/or fix or improve their tenant screening report. HJC is ready to empower people in their rental searches, free of charge. Please call 1-800-429-1705 or visit to learn more.

Read the report on tenant screening in the Twin Cities: Opening The Door.


Heading Home Corps looking to partner with organizations who provide services to people experiencing homelessness

Heading Home Corps

Heading Home Corps places AmeriCorps members, called Housing Resource Navigators, at organizations. Housing Resource Navigators provide program participants with resource navigation for direct housing support or housing-adjacent support. Example activities include: obtaining subsidies for housing, acquiring necessary documentation for housing, facilitating access to healthcare, mental health, employment, and/or substance-use resources. 

Heading Home Corps currently is working to partner with nonprofits, public entities, and shelters in a variety of locations in the Twin Cities and Statewide. See below for more information about the program and how to apply. Application are now being accepted on rolling basis.

If you'd like to set up a call or informational meeting to learn more about the program, please contact Alana Stimes, Program Director, at

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