- Created: Thursday, 06 December 2018 10:40
- Written by Laura Proescholdt
Chief of Police Jim Exsted has served with the Baxter Police Department for over two decades. He’s spent below-zero nights at 24-hour restaurants or gas stations, waiting with community members experiencing homelessness who simply need a warm place to sit until Community Services opens in the morning.
Right: Rendering of White Oak Estates townhomes by Blumentals/Architecture, Inc.
“A lot of times these individuals will be tapped out of their free housing options — whether it’s through Salvation Army or Lutheran Social Service,” Exsted explained. “When you get to the end of those options, there really isn’t anything more to do.”
Because options for an affordable home are slim in Exsted’s region — especially those offering services to support people with a mental illness or chemical dependency — there’s no guarantee that that person will be able to find help when the sun comes up.
“I know there’ve been times when they sit in the lobby at community services all day,” Exsted said. “It’s tough, and at some point, a lot of people get sick of waiting and get up and walk out.”
Fortunately, with the leadership of the Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative — which includes county leaders from Todd, Wadena, Cass, Morrison, Aikin, and Crow Wing Counties — Baxter, Minnesota is taking a major step to prevent and address homelessness in the region with a new project financed this fall by Minnesota Housing.