2.3.20. A 2018 study by Wilder Research found that the Minnesota homeless population had increased 10% since 2015. That distressing trend has continued: the Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness reported in October that its shelters were often at capacity, with people being turned away. To help address this problem, developer Newport Midwest, LLC made ten units at its new Hook & Ladder Apartments, in Northeast Minneapolis, available to those in need of housing.
Through Hook & Ladder Apartments, Newport Midwest is working in partnership with the nonprofit Avivo, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Hennepin County’s Human Services and Public Health Departments, and the county’s Coordinated Entry System (CES). “It is a pretty incredible partnership,” said Shari Peterson, a program manager for Avivo’s Family Navigation program.
Anna Olson, an Avivo case manager for the program, noted that families come to her office through the Hennepin County CES. These families are “experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, or are living in places not meant for human habitation,” she explained.
Olson specifically works with families. To meet the income requirements to move into one of the Hook & Ladder apartment homes, qualified families had to be “under 50% of AMI.”* “[Most] of our clients are far below that,” Olson said.
Hook & Ladder Apartments, especially, has been facilitative in processing applicants referred through Avivo, noted Karvee Kawalawu, Avivo’s program director for care coordination. Often the rental application process is particularly challenging for those coming out of long-term homelessness. Hook & Ladder Apartments has “been so amazing in just saying, ‘Send us the paperwork and we’ll figure it all out,’” Kawalawu remarked.
People who are in shelters may have dealt with a variety of issues, including substance abuse and mental health struggles, that resulted in them being evicted. The folks at Hook & Ladder Apartments have been compassionate regarding rental history, too.
“Hook & Ladder has been so flexible working with these families,” said Kawalawu. “It gives them another chance to start life again with their kids.”
*AMI refers to Area Median Income – the midpoint of the income distribution for a geographic region (half of the area’s families earn more than the AMI and half of the families earn less) – defined and calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).