For the last three years, Guild has been providing outreach services in Anoka County, intending to connect people experiencing homelessness with the Project for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness Program (PATH) and Housing Support programs. But as homelessness has become more prevalent there is a lack of services in the county The need to increase staffing became apparent. Guild’s Robbin Lofton, Program Supervisor of CENS/PATH observed, “The need has been extremely high to have more staff, as we have been inundated with referrals weekly.”
With the increasing demand for services in Anoka County, Guild began “coming up with innovative ways to serve the homeless population efficiently and effectively in the county,” according to Robbin. Recent grant funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services provided the opportunity to add two new positions to the PATH program serving Anoka County.
In January, Anoka County Commissioner, Mandy Meisner, joined Robbin for the annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count—counting the number of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night.
This was the first time an Anoka County Commissioner experienced a PIT count and provided the opportunity for Commissioner Meisner to deepen her understanding of homelessness in the county she serves. Robbin Lofton shared with us, “In conducting this count, we went out into the community, encampments, and we searched areas that many people don’t even think to check. During this encounter, the Commissioner was able to see what homelessness looks like and why it’s so important to push for change and vote for additional housing and shelters for the population we serve.”
Bringing elected officials into the field to see what Guild does every day is a “big deal,” according to Robbin, explaining, “They get a chance to be in our world and know the world the homeless individuals experience on a day-to-day basis.”
Commissioner Meisner also shared her thoughts on the partnership, saying, “Community service is my background and I’ve been involved in local issues long before I was a Commissioner. As an elected official, I see the importance of having strong partnerships with other agencies to tackle our most complicated problems. Guild has been crucial to addressing homelessness in our community. I have seen first hand how their street outreach programs have allowed us to connect those experiencing homelessness when they need it the most.”
Special thanks to Commissioner Meisner and her team for investing in Anoka County residents in this critical way. If you’d like to support Guild’s Housing Support program or others, please consider a gift.