Collaborative Effort for Red Lake/Leech Lake Long-term Homeless

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collaborative_effort_for_red_lake-leech_lake_long_term_homeless.jpgJust behind the baseball fields near

Bemidji Middle School, nestled among the pines, is a place called

Conifer Estates, a supportive housing project put together with

collaborative effort by several governments and agencies, including

Red Lake Nation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Bi-County CAP.

On June 11, the 70 residents, staff and

guests gathered near Conifer’s office building for a picnic supper

while enjoying the sun and the 78 degree weather.

To the rear of the building was a

meeting room filled with hot dog and hamburger buns, chips, pickles,

and more. Outside the open back door, two charcoal grills are

commandeered by Conifer’s young, hard-working resident manager, a

stern but gentle fellow known as Joe Van Horn of Redby and Chad

Nelson Chief Property Manager for DW Jones.

After lunch Nelson and Van Horn

gathered all the children together and led them to a dry "run-off"

pond, a round depression not unlike a small amphitheater where bags

of water balloons lay waiting. After forming three teams, the fun

began. Later every child and adult were the recipients of at least

one give-away.

"This is such a great turn-out,"

Nelson told the small crowd of neighbors and friends. "My thanks

to the staff here at Conifer and of course the tenants who have made

this effort such a great success."

"We have monthly service provider

meetings, and our families will approach any of us for assistance,"

Valerie Robinson, Leech Lake Housing case manager, said. "We

work hard at knowing what is happening at Conifer and pass along

important information to each other. This helps the three entities

identify problem areas as well as opportunities to help in positive

areas, then to act quickly so we can address the issues. We work well

together and share the responsibility of management and services to

our clients."

Nova Larson, Red Lake Housing

Authority, confirmed Robinson’s observations, "Valerie, Barb,

Karen and I not only work together well, we like and respect each

other. This camaraderie helps us help our residents by designing

programs in life-skills training, money management, etc. We also act

as liaisons between residents and social agencies to help them get on

their feet, if needed."

Conifer Estates, which grew out of the

planning process, is a collaborative effort between Headwaters

Housing Development Corporation, Beltrami County HRA, Red Lake

Nation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Bi-County Community Action

Programs, Inc. The 20-unit development consists of 16 supportive,

three transitional housing units, and one caretaker’s unit, all

designed to successfully house long-term homeless families. Red Lake

HRA and Leech Lake HRA each hold the master lease for five units and

sublet these 10 units to eligible tribal members. The remaining nine

units are available to other households experiencing long-term

homelessness.

Conifer Estates serves eligible tribal citizens and long-term homeless people. In 2009, 393 people

were known to be homeless in the Northwest Region of Minnesota,

including 235 children and youth through age 21. As the economy

worsened and homelessness increased, housing leaders in Beltrami

initiated a planning process to bring a supportive housing project

into the community.

Conifer Estates, which grew out of the

planning process, is a collaborative effort between Headwaters

Housing Development Corporation, Beltrami County HRA, Red Lake

Nation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Bi-County Community Action

Programs, Inc. The 20-unit development consists of 16 supportive,

three transitional housing units, and one caretaker’s unit, all

designed to successfully house long-term homeless families. Red Lake

HRA and Leech Lake HRA each hold the master lease for five units and

sublet these 10 units to eligible tribal members. The remaining nine

units are available to other households experiencing long-term

homelessness.