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Dozens of northwest metro families experiencing housing instability find help

The Homework Starts with Home Northwest program is helping families avoid eviction.

NEW HOPE, Minn. — There is new help for families facing housing instability in the northwest metro.

Families with children enrolled in Osseo Area Schools and Brooklyn Center Community Schools may be eligible for a program called Homework Starts With Home Northwest.

It's a collaboration between the two school districts, Hennepin County, and YMCA of the North to help families catch up on rent, find employment, and take other steps to promote long-term stability. 

Unlike other Y programs, families interested in this program should go through their school districts to enroll. Once accepted, YMCA Youth and Family Services provides goal-oriented case management and supportive services to prevent homelessness and identify and address barriers to stable housing. Services include financial and monthly budgeting assistance, food support, employment help, and connection to community resources. 

A woman named Elizabeth and her four-year-old daughter are benefiting from this program. Originally from Liberia, Elizabeth moved to Minnesota almost two years ago to settle in and work. She says she was working at a warehouse when her daughter fell sick.

"She was not feeling well so I lost my job," Elizabeth said. "It was very hard because … sometimes I'm late, I'm running late, I have to leave the job, go pick her up from school."

While searching for a new job, Elizabeth fell behind on rent.

"I was so afraid because for me I thought I'm going to lose the place and I don't know [anyone] here," she said.

Elizabeth says her daughter's school district, Osseo Area Schools, connected her to Homework Starts with Home Northwest and she was able to avoid eviction.

"Our ultimate goal for the program is for families to be able to, if they want, stay in their current housing and for especially the students to be able to stay in their schools that they're attending," said Kendra Kuhlmann, housing stability social worker for Osseo Area Schools.

Bri Warren, program director of homeless services at the YMCA of the North, says the program has helped around 50 families in its first year and says the goal is to help 250 families total over three years.

"The best way to address the chronic adult homelessness that is really a true epidemic in our nation is to start young and start at the family," Warren said. ""We are more than just a check-cutting one-time assistance and we really focus on like, what are your goals, what are your barriers?"

Elizabeth says the program helped her budget her money and secure a new job at a group home. 

"I'm okay now," she said. "Any time you're need of help, they're there for you and already I love to be in the program. I already love to be there."

For more information, families should contact their school district to determine if they are eligible. For Brooklyn Center Schools, email HSWH@BCCS286.org. For Osseo Area Schools, HSWH@district279.org.


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