Wrapping up Summer

As we enter August, Minnesotans seem to be of two minds: we are simultaneously focused on soaking up as much summery goodness as possible, while also looking toward Autumn.

And so it is here at ICA! We have almost a full month of August left, which means that we are still busy with our Kids' Summer Market, our program which provides extra food to households with school-aged children during the summer months.

Without access to free and reduced-price lunch, many of our local kids struggle with hunger during the summer. We love offering our neighbors this extra food to help feed hungry kids. Last summer, we fed 934 kids through this program! There's still time for you to get involved; donate today

And as we also look ahead toward fall, we are busy prepping for our school programs! ICA has two: Snack Bins and Weekend Bags.

Snack Bins. We provide our local schools with plastic bins filled with kid-friendly snacks. Each bin contains about 30 pounds of snacks including granola bars, fruit cups, and crackers. School counselors and teachers are invited to pick up a bin and share the snacks with hungry kids. Students who don't receive breakfast at home or don't have a lunch are able to drop by the office and get a snack, so that their growing bodies and brains have the energy they need to learn and grow.

Weekend Bags. Weekend bags are designed to provide additional food to students in need during the weekend when school breakfast and lunches are not available. The food is packed by ICA volunteers into a plastic bag and is small enough to fit into a student’s backpack. Each bag contains 3.5 pounds of nonperishable food. We also include info about ICA that students can share with their caregiver, so that the household can come in and get food for the whole family, including fresh produce.

Right now we're busy prepping for these two programs so that we're ready for the school year, and we need your help! We are particularly in need of granola bars, instant oatmeal packets, macaroni & cheese, and canned fruit (no sugar added). You can also donate financially; ICA's access to discounts and program enables us to purchase up to ten times the amount of food that you can at a grocery store. Donate here.

As always, thank you so much for supporting neighbors in need in our community!

With gratitude,

Peg Keenan, Executive Director

Resources on Affordable Housing

Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk, a documentary from Twin Cities PBS shares tenant stories and lifts up solutions for affordable housing. 

Here's How Much You Need to Afford Rent in Your State, an article from the Washington Post examining an annual report that examines the gap between wages and the cost of rental housing. 

Groups Hope $25M Fund Will Preserve Lower-Priced Rentals in the Twin Cities, an article from the Star Tribune exploring the work of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, a group that helps finance affordable housing.

Opinion: Why Affordable Housing Needs to be a Right, Not a Privilege, post from ideas.TED.com arguing for affordable housing.

Section 8 Vouchers Help the Poor -- But Only if Housing is Available, an article from NPR on the difficulties those with Section 8 vouchers face when searching for homes that will accept them.

Twin Cities Low-Cost Housing is Drying Up -- Especially in the Suburbs, an article from the Pioneer Press about affordable housing in the Twin Cities. 

 

Program Spotlight: Homelessness Prevention

In 2016, ICA provided $98,428 in homeless prevention assistance, benefiting 181 families -- an average of $543 per family. ICA provides financial assistance for “solvable situations,” neighbors needing temporary assistance with rent, mortgage, utilities, or transportation needs due to unforeseen circumstances. With ICA’s help to fill the financial gap in an unexpected situation, the family will once again be able to pay their bills independently.

ICA receives requests each month for help with rent and/or utilities for residents that typically are just making ends meet. Clients may have experienced a household emergency, unexpected medical bills, or car repairs. We urge clients to use our food shelf so that money typically spent on groceries can go towards other bills. However, sometimes that is not enough.
 
ICA provides rental and utility bill assistance in “solvable situations." That means that with our one-time assistance the client will be back on track to pay future bills. Our Case Managers work with the client to create a solution which may involve ICA paying their landlord past due rent or the utility company a past due bill. They may also refer the person to budgeting classes, or other services which can reduce their monthly income needs.

We also work with Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin County (CAP-HC) to ensure clients are signed up for Energy Assistance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). ICA also works collaboratively with CAP-HC and ResourceWest to create a package of financial assistance for our clients. 

As it appears that Southwest Light Rail Transit will now come through Hopkins and Minnetonka, additional challenges have arisen. Some formerly naturally occurring affordable apartment buildings are raising rents as they make improvements, which will make it difficult for some residents to stay in their homes. ICA works with clients to help them achieve stability.

Furthermore, Hennepin County has shifted their housing assistance the past two years to moving people out of shelter, which leaves a gap in the prevention side which would keep people out of shelter.

As we work together to fulfill our mission to offer hope as we provide assistance to our neighbors in need, we are helping to create a more stable and vibrant community for us all. Thank you for partnering with us in this work. To support this and other important ICA programs, donate here