Created: December 26, 2019 07:06 PM
(ABC 6 News) - It has been one week since Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced a homeless initiative to bring Minnesotans without shelter inside. Almost five million dollars has been committed to the cause.
With winter in full swing, many people in Olmsted County still do not have a roof over their heads.
"We did a count in October as part of our work with the Corporation for Supportive Housing. We saw 125, 130 people,” said Olmsted County Deputy Administrator of Health, Housing and Human Services Paul Fleissner.
“That was both a call to action and a little alarming," he said.
On any given night, more than 1600 Minnesotans sleep outside. That number has doubled since 2015.
Governor Walz hopes the homeless initiative will help bring those numbers down significantly.
"I'm encouraged by the Governor's initiative cause he's bringing private and public partners together to tackle an issue that is growing in our community, in our state and across the country" said Fleissner.
Some of the money will go to adding more beds across the state immediately. But there’s also a larger strategy to connect people with long term housing.
A 13 person advisory committee was assembled to manage the Minnesota Homeless Fund. Fleissner was appointed to the committee; he is the only member from the region.
"If we come together as communities and as a state and make it a priority and think about ways to create solutions that aren't traditional I think we have a lot of hope for solving this issue,” he said.
He said no funds have been distributed to Olmsted County yet, but said there’s a real need for more outreach workers.
"A lot of the count that was done in October was just on the backs of the people that were doing other jobs. How do we do more outreach?"
After the count in October, he said outreach workers were able to house 30 people.
Fleissner also said the county could use new strategies to help people with criminal records or bad rental histories find housing.
The first committee meeting will be held in January.
Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company