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NUMAS Haus expanding program to help homeless

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt The New Ulm Ministerial Association (NUMAS) has operated an emergency shelter on Center Street for single women and their children for the last four years. The program is now expanding in transitional housing.

NEW ULM — Four years ago, the New Ulm Ministerial Association (NUMAS) opened a shelter to provide emergency shelter and support for homeless women and children in Brown County called NUMAS Haus. The shelter is now expanding its service to include transitional housing.

NUMAS Haus Board member Bill Day said they saw a need for additional rental options when families left NUMAS Haus.

“They need another place to go,” Day said.

NUMAS Haus is only intended as temporary housing, but many guests are unable to find new housing after leaving the shelter.

NUMAS Shelter Coordinator Karla Diehn said many barriers prevent families from finding housing. A lack of available housing is an issue, but rental history is another obstacle. Many of the families using NUMAS Haus services were unable to rent homes because of poor rental history. Landlords typically look at rental history and credit. Without a strong rental history, families cannot find decent housing. This creates a situation where families are stuck in a cycle of homelessness. The transitional housing program would break the cycle.

Photos courtesy of NUMAS Haus One of the bedrooms at NUMAS Haus.

“For those stuck, this helps build up a rental history,” Diehn said. By providing NUMAS Haus families with a rental property, they have an opportunity to fix rental history and show potential landlords they can be good tenants.

NUMAS Haus is starting the transitional program by purchasing a new trailer in New Ulm’s mobile village. Day said this option fits for NUMAS.

“We feel it is a cost-effective measure,” Day said.” We don’t want to spend the boards’ money foolishly.”

The plan is to purchase the trailer in December and have families move in by January. Day said they are starting with a single trailer, but could expand to more units if the board sees a greater need.

NUMAS Haus has already played an important role in assisting Brown County families. In the four years, NUMAS Haus has been accepting guests, it is usually at capacity. Three families at a time can live at NUMAS Haus at one time. As of November 2020, NUMAS Haus has served as a temporary home for 56 families.

The large kitchen helps residents learn about buying and cooking fresh food.

The shelter program is for 90 days. Families take part in programs that teach nutrition, parenting and rent budgeting to avoid future evictions. There is also basic mentoring and guidance. Guests have the option of further case management after leaving the home. The classes are designed to prevent the homeless cycle from starting again. Diehn said around 70% of the families complete the program.

The NUMAS Haus shelter was created after Brown County Family Services contacted the Ministerial Association regarding a program for people in need. The association soon learned Brown County was most in need of a homeless shelter. At the same time, NUMAS was learning from the public school that many students did not have a permanent address.

In response, area churches began donating time, money, and resources to make NUMAS Haus possible. After a little over a year, the house at 606 Center Street was renovated and began accepting families.

The shelter is designed to assist single mothers and their children. By given these families a place to stay the children will have a more stable home life, and give them the training and support needed to become more self-sufficient in the future. The criteria for staying at NUMAS Haus is still homeless women with or without children in the School District 88 area.

NUMAS Haus is funded through donations and the need remains strong; especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re blessed COVID hasn’t dramatically changed NUMAS Haus,” Day said.

Photo courtesy of NUMAS Haus NUMAS purchased is purchasing a rental trailer in New Ulm’s Mobile Village to serve as transitional housing for NUMAS Haus guests. The trailer will allow families to move into the rental unit and build up rental history.

No one staying at NUMAS Haus or volunteering has tested positive for COVID yet, but the shelter has seen the secondary impact of the pandemic. With schools shifting to distancing learning this year, some kids staying at NUMAS Haus needed to learn from the home.

Out of precaution, volunteers are not being allowed in the home except for a few essential board members.

COVID has also created additional housing problems. Diehn said there is a waiting list of families looking to get into NUMAS Haus, but this might not be COVID related. She said the demand for housing increases during the winter months, but It is even harder to find housing during COVID.

Overall, NUMAS Haus has been able to meet the challenges. “I feel our donors have pulled through,” Diehn said. “We’re still down on donations, but people have remembered us.”

The annual NUMAS Haus fundraiser will be held as a virtual event that can be lived streamed from the NUMAS Haus website. The fundraiser is called “Hope: A night of stories & music 2.0”.

The event can be live-streamed starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3. The virtual fundraiser will feature testimonials from those who completed the program as well as information on the new Transitional program. The fundraiser will include entertainment from musician Jason Gray.

The NUMAS Board encourages people to donate to continue running the program and shelter. There is also a continuing need for volunteers.

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