New Hennepin County initiative to address addiction, homelessness being put into action

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Hennepin County is rolling out a new initiative called “supportive housing” in an effort to address issues like addiction and homelessness.

The county is currently accepting project ideas for housing developments that would be extremely affordable and provide on-site services for those suffering from addiction.

“For this group in particular, they may have barriers like criminal histories or bad credit history that don't allow them to rent in the private market. The private market screens them out for those barriers. This new housing will be specifically designed for them,” said Hennepin County Housing Development and Finance Manager Julia Welle Ayres.

Supportive housing would offer affordable rent, along with things like counseling and treatment. Welle Ayres said the goal is to have developers partner with non-profit organizations and service providers.

The county could award up to $91 million for supportive housing developments over the next decade.

“In 10 years, if we’re successful, we will have created 1,000 units of affordable housing for deeply vulnerable populations. More importantly, we will have informed and led the market in what it looks like to do this work,” Welle Ayres said.

So far, the county has awarded a total of $3.8 million to four different projects, including the 2740 Project from Simpson Housing Services & Project for Pride in Living.

Over the course of the supportive housing initiative, they will accept proposals for other “priority groups” as well, including families dealing with disabilities and sexually exploited youth.

Welle Ayres said they hope these big investments will make a big change.

“The private market can’t support these populations. The math doesn’t work for developers to develop housing for this group without significant public investment,” Welle Ayres explained. “So in short, if not us than who? Creating stable housing for them creates benefits for the whole community."

You can find more information here.