Washington County is a suburban metro area county that stretches over 38 miles from north to south, from Forest Lake to Cottage Grove. It is geographically, politically, and economically diverse; a mix of suburban and rural communities that comprise the second wealthiest county in Minnesota on a per capita basis.
In the United States, poverty and homelessness have largely been assumed to be "urban" issues. The images of urban homelessness have been often repeated in media reports and films--cardboard boxes make-shift camps, rows of mats on the floor of a crowded shelter, shopping carts full of aluminum cans, long lines at a soup kitchen, and so on. Far less frequently does one think homelessness might exist in suburban and rural communities-right here in our own back yard.
To be sure, homelessness looks different in Washington County than in downtown Minneapolis. Instead of waiting in line to get into a shelter, families are sleeping in their cars, staying in a motel with the support of the county or a local church, camping, doubling up in a friend or relative's place, or leaving their community to go to Minneapolis or Saint Paul where they can find the shelter and services that are lacking in our county. The fact remains that Washington County has seen a steady increase over the past decade of families, unaccompanied youth, and adults without children who are experiencing housing instability and homelessness. Without a concerted effort to recognize and develop new strategies to address these housing needs, the recent trends of increased homelessness will not go away.
Heading Home Washington (HHW) is a community plan--meaning that it was created by and will be implemented through a community-wide, collaborative approach. Please join us in helping to end homelessness in Washington County.
What does "Ending Homelessness" mean?
Crises happen. Life events, natural disasters, and personal struggles can result in causing a family to lose the place they have called home. While no plan can prevent these things from ever occurring, we do envision a community in which most crises are addressed in a manner that prevents homelessness, and those who do become homeless are rapidly connected to resources and services that will quickly assist them in obtaining and maintaining stable housing.