Affordable Housing Crisis Impacts Local Charities Financially

September 28, 2017 07:05 PM

(ABC 6 News)--We've been discussing the lack of affordable housing in Olmsted County for quite some time. Now, some local charities are starting to see the financial impact of that shortage.

"In Rochester, the most of our money was going to RPU to pay utilities," said Marty Cormack, the District Council President for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Rochester.


Cormack said these days; most of the money is going towards something else.

"In this last year, almost all our money and a large number of it is going to help people with their rent, either to get into a place they can afford or to keep them from getting evicted from the place they're in," Cormack said.

Back when the requests were for heating and utilities, it would cost maybe a couple hundred dollars, but rent assistance is much more expensive.

"It's 300, 400, $500 because the rents are so high," said Cormack.

Here's the bigger issue, Marty is concerned about running out of money because the rent assistance demand is so high and there's a lack of affordable housing.

But the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is not alone.

"We are seeing a lot of the same things. Our money that we do get from funders and foundations doesn't go as far as it used to," said Cindy Norgard, Director of Social Services for the Salvation Army.

The reason? The Rochester Salvation Army can assist with up to one month's rent, but now it’s helping more and more people each month.

"Probably 80% of the people we work with are working. I mean if you're working a full-time job you should be able to, in a community, you should be to afford to live in that community," said Norgard.

"We have a certain dollar amount that we have to look at and once that's out it's out. We'll inquire, have you talked to the county, have you gone to St. Vincent de Paul, have you talked to Salvation Army?" said Family Advocacy Specialist at Three Rivers Community Action, Larry More.

Last year, 45 households received housing crisis assistance in Rochester through Three Rivers Community Action. The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul were unable to provide exact numbers, but both said it's getting worse. 

If it continues, Cormack said the community may soon face a homelessness crisis.

"At the rate that we we're spending money this last year, even with generous donors it's going to get tough," said Cormack.



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