The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners recently endorsed Lutheran Social Service's homeless prevention program, the only one of its kind in the Brainerd lakes area and surrounding region.

Lutheran Social Service is seeking renewal funding through the state's Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program. Lutheran Social Service has experience administering these services to Crow Wing, Todd and Morrison counties since 1999.

"Part of the process of being approved for further funding is getting approval from the boards of all the counties that we serve," Lutheran Social Service Housing Director Jennifer Swick told the board at its Tuesday, May 28, meeting.

Lutheran Social Service was re-awarded the funds through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for the 2020-21 biennium and sought a supporting county board resolution.

"We're grateful to be with you this morning asking for a board resolution endorsing the services that Lutheran Social Service provides in this county for people experiencing homelessness and to prevent homelessness," Swick said at the Crow Wing County meeting.

Swick sought board approval so the contract requirements can be completed and services can continue for families and individuals in Crow Wing County. The board adopted similar resolutions in 2015 and 2017.

"Homelessness is a bit on the rise. After the recession, it took a long time for homeless numbers to decrease. ... Recession always hits people struggling economically longer and harder than the general population," Swick said.

The National Street and Shelter Point-In-Time Count mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for those experiencing homelessness occurs annually in January in Minnesota, including at the Salvation Army in Brainerd.

Every three years, Wilder Research conducts a one-day statewide study to better understand the prevalence of homelessness in Minnesota, as well as the circumstances of those experiencing homelessness. The most recent "point-in-time" study by Wilder Research took place on Oct. 25, 2018. The overall number of people experiencing homelessness in the state is up from 2015 from 9,312 to 10,233, according to Wilder.

"There's been a growth from last year-a 10% increase-in the experience of homelessness across our state," Swick said.

The emphasis of Lutheran Social Service's program is to create a partnership with the household to resolve their housing crisis, identify their strengths and needs, and to develop and

implement a stabilization plan.

Stabilization plans often include assistance with housing and employment search, transportation to appointments as identified in the plan, referral to other agencies or community resources, and assistance completing forms or applications.

"Are you the only provider of this type of service in Crow Wing County?" Commissioner Paul Koering asked. "The reason why I ask is because I hesitate the county board gives its endorsement to something or organization and there's other providers, and we are in essence picking winners and losers."

Swick replied, "My awareness is that there are none that are in this county that are getting funding from FHPAP, so in a sense there is no competition in that regard for what you are endorsing today. We're the only contenders for this particular source of money for this area."

Short-term financial assistance, commonly in the form of one month's rent and/or rental deposit, is available to prevent evictions or mortgage foreclosures and to aid a household in obtaining new affordable housing if already homeless.

Commissioner Bill Brekken made the motion to endorse Lutheran Social Service's application for grant funding from the FHPAP. Houge second Brekken's motion, and it was passed unanimously.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Jonathon Knutson, highway department business manager; Henry Harguth and Eric Huseby, highway department seasonal engineering assistants; Nick Lossow, Christy Gass, Alex Vukelich, Robb Pike, sheriff's office seasonal recreation assistants; Kevin Gohman, land services seasonal environmental technician; David Bilyeu, administrative services technical support intern; Jake Enzminger, administrative services geographic information services intern; Emily Johnson, sheriff's office 911 communications officer; and Emelia Hinrichs, highway department high school engineering intern.

Approved the promotion of Jacob Frie, land services environmental services supervisor; Sean Condon, sheriff's office jail sergeant; and Christina Kadolph, community services financial worker.

Accepted the departure of Andrew Rugloski and Anthony Brunhuber, sheriff's office part-time deputies; and Pamala Kaye-Williams, sheriff's office senior technical/administrative specialist.

Authorized entering into a grant agreement between the county and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Enforcement Division, for providing additional boating safety patrol for up to $19,500.

Authorized entering into an agreement between the county and Central Lakes College for use of the gun range and classroom. The usage fee for the 2019 calendar year will be $1,500 and the 2020 calendar year will be $2,000.

Approved the renewal of 3.2% malt liquor license applications for existing establishments, as recommended by their respective township boards of Oak Lawn, Mission, Crow Wing, Center, First Assessment, Maple Grove, Nokay Lake and St. Mathias.

Approved the renewal on-sale and Sunday liquor license applications for existing establishments, as recommended by their respective township boards of Oak Lawn, Long Lake, St. Mathias, Ideal, Garrison, First Assessment, Bay Lake, Mission, Maple Grove and Lake Edward.

Approved the renewal combination (on-sale Sunday and off-sale) liquor license applications for existing establishments, as recommended by their respective township boards of Perry Lake, Lake Edward, Ideal, Roosevelt, First Assessment, Nokay Lake, Oak Lawn, Fairfield, Bay Lake and Garrison.

Approved the renewal off-sale liquor license applications for existing establishments, as recommended by their respective township boards of First Assessment, Mission, Bay Lake and Crow Wing.

Approved the renewal club on-sale liquor license application of the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association, as recommended by Oak Lawn Township.

Supported the Minnesota lawful gambling application for an off-site permit of the Confidence Learning Center for June 27-30 at Brainerd International Raceway, Unorganized Territory.

Supported the Minnesota lawful gambling applications for exempt permits for the Mission Township Fire Fighters Relief Association on July 20, at the Mission Park, and on Sept. 21 at the Mission Town Hall Fire Station.

Accepted donations in the amount of a $500 donation from the Brainerd Jaycees to the county mounted patrol, and a $500 donation from the Brainerd Jaycees to the county dive team.

Approved entering into a contract with Tri-County Septic Inspections to provide basic septic design review services and Esp. Septic LLC for advanced septic design review and advanced septic system installation review.

Approved the county board chair signing a letter of support for the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage grant application for $4.5 million, which, if awarded, would be split among Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties' soil and water conservation districts.

Authorized the following terms for sales of forfeited lands: sales of $1,000 or less shall be paid in cash at the time of purchase and sales greater than $1,000 require a minimum down payment of 15% of the purchase price at the time of purchase. For sales of $1,001 to $20,000, the balance payable may be made in five annual installments of principal and interest. For sales over $20,000, the balance payable may be made in 10 annual installments of principal and interest.