Overcoming Barriers to Housing: Growing Our Reach in Anoka County

Sep 21, 2023

On July 27th, 2023, the Anoka County Board unanimously renewed its contract with Guild, ensuring our ability to continue street outreach and emergency shelter efforts in the county. Thanks to increased funding from the County and planned funds from the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Office of Economic Opportunity, we’re adding additional staff to reach more people in need.

“Guild’s partnership with Anoka County is one of those rare instances where the public and private sector put their best tools and resources together and create immediate and lasting positive community impact,” said Amber Michel, Guild’s director of clinical services, overseeing our housing stabilization work. “All of us, including our partners at Anoka County, struggle to navigate the extraordinarily high need and insufficient supply of deeply affordable housing. It can be an overwhelming problem but our partners at Anoka County have time and time again taken the lead in identifying creative ways to meet community need.”

As a service provider, securing adequate funding for our work can be complex and time-consuming. This partnership enables us to do what we do best—deliver services to people where and when they need them.

Our work in Anoka County centers on three core offerings:

  • Street Outreach – Our team actively looks for and offers help to people who might be homeless. This can mean spending time in places like public libraries, where folks in need often spend time. We also field inbound reference calls from community members who request assistance for someone they’ve seen who might be experiencing homelessness.
  • Emergency Shelter – We’re partnering with hotels in Anoka County, and have access to 10 rooms for emergency shelter where individuals can stay for 90 days until they are able to transition to a longer-term housing solution. “For Guild clients in Anoka County, the increased funding can quite literally be the difference between being on the street and sleeping in a bed,” Amber said.
  • Housing Stabilization – We know that individuals experiencing homelessness are up against a number of barriers when looking for long-term housing—including but not limited to serious mental illness, low or no income, little to no rental history, and other disabling conditions. Our team meets regularly with clients to not only help them find housing, but connect them to other services and programs that can help stabilize their life in other ways, overcoming some of the barriers to maintaining long-term housing.

“Every step of the way, [Anoka County staff] demystify, de-complicate, and destress the financial resources side of the work,” Amber shared. “That kind of side-by-side support is invaluable.”

When asked what other counties could learn from this model and partnership, Amber said, “The need is great but there is an even greater resource of skill, knowledge, and expertise within the service providers in your county. If the county can clear a path by securing funding, service providers will rise again and again to meet community need.”

Learn more: For most of us, picturing someone who is homeless conjures up very specific images in our minds. But for those of us who work in the field, we know it doesn’t always look like what we might expect. We invite you to learn more in this video.

Seek help: If you or a loved one are experiencing homelessness Coordinated Entry is where you can start. Click here to get started.

Support our work: If you’d like to support this and other services we provide, please make a gift.