Homelessness in Koochiching County
How big of an issue is homelessness in our community?
Servants of Shelter provided over 12,000 nights of shelter during the Covid pandemic, over 5,000 nights each year for 2021 and 2022. We work in collaboration with other local agencies to connect our guests to permanent housing and support services. Homelessness in rural and remote communities such as ours is often invisible, but it very much exists.
What does homelessness look like?
Homelessness is a complex issue and it affects people of all ages, gender, and ability. There is no set formula for homelessness, but often the causes of homelessness are a lack of affordable housing, family disruption such as domestic violence, poverty, substance abuse, mental illness and incomes not matching housing prices.
Each year we take part in a national Place in Time (PIT) Homelessness Survey. This year we, along with several local housing, social service, and emergency service agencies took part in the survey and 68 individuals were homeless on one evening in January. This is a gross under-representation of the actual number of homeless in our area, as many people did not come into contact with the surveyors during the limited time the survey takes place.
We were formed in 2009 following a series of a citizen task force meetings on homelessness. SOS was created to fill the gap in services for emergency shelter that was being experienced in Koochiching County at that time. We began by housing people on a rotating basis, and have evolved over time to offer short-term apartment and hotel stays. We are almost entirely volunteer-driven and have been since our inception.
SOS relies heavily on the support of our caring and compassionate community. We hold annual fundraisers such as our popular fundraiser Singing Valentines, Luck of the Irish Family Carnival with the VFW, SOS Rummage Sale, SOS Treasure Sale at the I. Falls Bass Tournament, and Random Acts of Coffee Cards Sale in partnership with the Coffee Landing.
We also thank our Funders- Past and Present:
Otto Bremer Trust
Office of Economic Opportunity
Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl
Open Your Heart
Ruby’s Pantry Benevolence Fund
North Star Electric Cooperative
Marshall Knudson Family Fund