Walz designates $15 million in federal American Rescue funds for COVID-19 mitigation in emergency shelters

Generic Homeless

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WKBT) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced an allocation of $15 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds Wednesday to help emergency shelters serving vulnerable Minnesotans improve COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The money will support the state’s Emergency Services Program grants, which are awarded to organizations that provide emergency shelter and essential services for homeless people. It will be awarded competitively, prioritizing investments that acquire or modify shelter spaces to improve prevention of COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks.
“Minnesota’s shelters save lives and have been critical to our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Walz said. “This funding will help ensure that, as we approach our harsh winter months, Minnesota’s shelters are safe and available to Minnesotans who need them.”
Projects the funds will target will include
• Physical modifications to reduce transmission risks or increase separation of shelter guests
• Changes to ventilation or air filtration systems
• Modifications for traffic flow especially in high-traffic areas
• And creation or acquisition of new shelter space designed to operate effectively in the midst of an infectious disease.
Also this month, Walz announced an allocation of $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds to be managed through an inter-agency, interdisciplinary state homeless shelter emergency response team focused on helping shelters prepare and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks. That money is designated for responding to outbreaks in existing shelters and other temporary congregate settings for people experiencing homelessness.
Those funds will cover expenses to keep operating with the needed personnel, room leasing costs and other costs for supplies needed to sustain congregate setting operations, including air filtration and food.
Walz also announced on Wednesday that he is allocating $18 million of federal recovery funds to assist in the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, including funding for the Minnesota Judicial Branch to relieve case backlog resulting from the pandemic.

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