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ROCHESTER - Spiking evictions and too few resources for homeless youth are among the biggest issues as officials work on a list of recommendations to improve homeless services in Olmsted County.

Though not yet final, those recommendations include more shelter space, better communication among agencies and more emphasis on preventing evictions.

"That's really been a struggle that we've started to see more and more of," said Dave Dunn, director of Olmsted County's Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The Shelter Working Group, which includes shelter directors and city and county housing officials, initially started this spring expecting to discuss proposed state housing funds. The funds never materialized after the Legislature couldn't agree on an infrastructure bill.

Now housing officials plan to meet with other committees and residents to get more feedback before finalizing recommendations in October.

While shelter space was the initial reason behind the group's formation — the Empowering Connections and Housing Outreach (ECHO) Center soon will need a new building — officials and shelter directors found gaps in local resources for homeless residents.

They include storage space for belongings and better support for people with pets, which are common concerns for homeless people. Another need identified by the working group is a one-stop shop in Olmsted County for multiple agencies, more data collection and better methods to track residents in need as they receive services.

In addition, recommendations could include organizing area shelters into tiers based on the kind of services that a patient needs.

Evictions in the Rochester area have been on the rise ever since Minnesota's eviction moratorium was lifted in June. Since then, 15 to 20 eviction cases a week have been heard in Olmsted County courts. About 95% of those cases are due to nonpayment. Dunn said county officials found that renters in eviction cases in June alone owed a total of $154,000.

There are local resources to help prevent evictions, from a housing navigator at Rochester Public Schools to programs offered by Legal Assistance of Olmsted County. And local officials have budgetary motivations to keep people in their homes: Rental assistance costs $17 to $20 a night, and it costs $40 a night for people to use a shelter. The costs climb for hotel rooms or emergency care.

Housing officials say there aren't enough resources to go around.

"We have a lot of limited resources when it comes to emergency assistance or rental assistance, and we're finding the demand is exceeding the supply," Taryn Edens, the city's head of housing and neighborhood services, told the Rochester City Council during a presentation Monday on the work group.

Council members were pleased to hear the group is focused on preventative work, but some wondered why Olmsted County isn't doing a better job of tracking people in need. Shaun Palmer also questioned whether county officials were properly prepared to address evictions once the state's eviction moratorium expired.

"For two years we've had none. Now we have a bunch. I understand that," Palmer said. "You would think that we would look ahead and go, 'Hey, sometimes evictions are going to happen, we should get going on this.' "

Council Member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick said she felt the city and county need to do more than make general recommendations to address homelessness.

"Something needs to be done because it's still galumphing along and not keeping up, despite the huge effort and despite the great work," she said.