'Community Connect' Addresses Poverty and Homelessness

January 25, 2018 11:00 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- It's a way to gauge homelessness in Minnesota.

The annual "Point In Time" homelessness count ran from sunset last night to sunrise this morning.


As it ended, a first-time event in Albert Lea was working to address the issue of need in the community.

"This is an opportunity to sit down with someone or ask questions about resources that maybe you weren't even aware that were in the community" SEMCAC Linda Lares said.

Think of it as a one-stop shop to help break the cycle of poverty. It's called community connect.

"Each of the agencies here represents people who serve individuals in the community who have different needs," said Andrea Mauer with the Crime Victim’s Crisis Center.

"Advocacy is a huge piece for solving any problem, so understanding who to ask for help is key" said Ann Austin with the Freeborn County United Way.

“Just knowing that there is a service or a program out there that maybe you had no idea about” added SEMCACs Linda Lares.

“There's a really great opportunity for us as providers  to connect with each other during an event like this where we can talk about the bigger issues  and talk about some of the common themes that are coming up from the people who are visiting and asking for certain services and resources" the United Way’s Ann Austin said.

Resources like housing assistance, legal services, transportation, employment, youth and educational services and more.

"We're assisting folks to understand the system in which they're trying to apply and what they need" Linda Lares explained.

And “understanding” could be the first step in breaking the cycle.

"It's more than just handing the resources Ann Austin told us. “It's asking people what's the next step they want in their lives, what's the next step they want to take, what's a goal they have, how are we helping them achieve those goals, and how are we working together to do that."

“As the saying goes,” Linda Lares added. “together we are better."

Organizers hope to make Albert Lea’s “Community Connect” an annual event


Dan Conradt

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