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State grant to fund emergency shelter duplex

By KRISTINE GOODRICH, Faribault Daily News
Jan 14, 2024

Community Action Center has received state funding to build a townhouse in Faribault that will provide emergency shelter to families.

The townhouse will likely have two units and will be the first step in the nonprofit’s vision of developing a few townhouses in Faribault in which unhoused families can stay while CAC helps them achieve stable housing.

Many details remain yet to be decided, including the location of the townhouse, said ​​Becky Ford, Community Resource Manager for the CAC in Faribault.

The state grant requires a 10% match from a city or nonprofit partner. That likely will come in the form of a land donation request to the city, Ford said.

CAC leaders introduced the idea to Faribault city officials this summer. A few  city-owned lots were discussed then as potential sites. The City Council passed a resolution endorsing CAC’s grant application and pledging some support if approved.

Last session the state Legislature appropriated $98 million in funding for grants to support new emergency shelters or upgrading existing facilities.

The CAC submitted three applications for funding to build three townhouses. One of the three was approved.

“We’re really thrilled. It’s a great starting point,” Ford said.

Faribault currently does not have any shelters or other forms of emergency housing. The CAC is among the nonprofits that provides financial and other assistance to families and individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing housing. The Faribault Housing and Redevelopment Authority also provides housing for hotel room vouchers that are distributed by Faribault police officers.

Faribault Public Schools is reporting an uptick in students who do not have stable housing. Some are from migrant families while others are in families experiencing a financial hardship that has snowballed, Ford said.

A “scattered site” model has proven to be an effective approach to emergency housing in outstate Minnesota, Ford said. Instead of a communal shelter, individual housing units are scattered across a community. Ford said they provide improved privacy, safety and dignity for occupants, who stay for up to 90 days.

CAC has operated a scattered site model in Northfield for a number of years, before also recently opening the Hillcrest Village townhouse development that includes a mix of emergency, supportive and affordable housing units.

The Faribault townhouse will be similar to the new ones in Northfield, which Ford noted have won an award for their energy efficiency and have received many inquiries from other community developers interested in replicating.

The state grant awarded for Faribault’s first emergency shelter townhouse was from a one-time pool of funds, meaning the CAC can’t simply reapply next year and the next for the two additional sought-after townhouses.

While moving plans for the first one forward in coming months, Ford said CAC will continue to pursue other grant opportunities.

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