A new collaboration, called Lakes Area Housing Support Program (LAHSP), formed in Crow Wing County this summer to address the potential eviction crisis. The result not only strengthened area partnerships but made service delivery to area residents in need more efficient.
As the eviction moratorium was coming to an end, “local agencies began meeting as an Eviction Clinic to brainstorm how best to help clients who were facing evictions,” explained Danette Ringwelski, community services director at Tri-County Community Action Partnership.
The initial plan was for local agencies to work with Legal Aid of Minnesota to support clients with eviction hearings to resolve their cases. But it became clear quickly that the volume of cases and breadth of need reached beyond just eviction assistance. “COVID added a whole layer of need,” added Ringwelski.
To expound on the Eviction Clinic, LAHSP was formed to also help clients with emergency services including rent, deposit, utilities, water, sewer, and essential household expenses. The agencies involved include Bridges of Hope, Lutheran Social Services, Crow Wing County Social Services, Salvation Army, Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, Legal Aid Services of Northeastern Minnesota, and Tri-County Community Action Partnership (TCCAP). Aided by a grant, Bridges of Hope triages the phone calls using one application. The agencies meet weekly virtually and discuss the pending cases to determine which agency can best help the client with each service area of need.
“This collaboration allows for a one-stop and eliminates the agencies having to reach out individually while the client waits for services,” explained Ringwelski. “While we were already all doing these services, this brought everyone together. All agencies can bring their current cases and get a decision right at the meeting. It allows the client to be helped right away because if one agency can’t help the others usually can. So, for example, a client won’t get evicted while they are waiting for assistance with their utilities.”
For more information, contact TCCAP at www.tccaction.com.