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home : cass county news : cass county news
November 20, 2019

10/20/2019 9:50:00 AM
Cass County Board: Rural areas like Cass County are not immune to homeless problems, officials say

BACKUS -- Rachel Zetah, community development with Central Minnesota Council on Aging, informed Cass County commissioners about homelessness in rural Minnesota Tuesday, Oct. 15.

There is a lack of homeless shelters in rural Minnesota, she said.

Homeless people are those who do not have a permanent home of their own, she added.

Rural homeless people may not be as visible. They rarely live in a tent city like in larger cities.

Instead, they live in an abandoned house, a house with no electricity/heat, a fish house, a car, a camper, a barn, a garage, a shed or a storage shed. They may be sleeping on someone else's couch.

Zetah said a survey of homeless Minnesotans showed a 20% increase in the number of homeless ages 25 to 54 between 2015 and 2018 and a 25% rise in the number of homeless people over age 55. Another survey showed the homeless population age 55 and older doubled between 2009 and 2018.

A survey of homeless in Cass County this year identified 33 children, 13 youths and 19 adults. That did not count anyone sleeping on a friend's couch.

Some causes leading to homelessness include having to pay more than 30% of income for housing, insufficient retirement income, chronic health conditions, domestic violence, high child care costs, home foreclosures and lack of reliable transportation.

Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, online at, is the state's lead agency to prevent homelessness.

Bi-County Community Action Programs, with offices in Walker, is a local contact to help people of all ages who face homelessness. Its offices can be reached by phone at 218-547-3438 or 800-332-7135.

Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services helps all adults, including special programs for veterans. Its phone number is 218-547-1340. Lutheran Social Services, 888-828-4383, assists youths age 24 and younger. The Senior Linkage line for people age 60 and older is 800-333-2433.

Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.

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