Eden Prairie may have a larger median household income than Minnesota overall, and a much smaller percentage of the city’s population lives in poverty. But the numbers of Eden Prairie individuals and families seeking social services are significant and, in many cases, growing, nonprofit leaders told city officials this week.
Among the numbers shared Tuesday, Sept. 5, with city staff and Eden Prairie City Council members:
- Nearly 5,800 visits to PROP for food help during its last fiscal year, July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, a 37% increase over the previous year.
- 70 households seeking PROP’s help with temporary, emergency rent payments in 2022-23, up from 48 the previous year.
- 720 families, or about 3,000 individuals, were provided help by The PROP Shop through its donation center and resale store last year, with a 46% increase in new families served compared to 2021.
- More than 20 applications for a single open slot in Onward Eden Prairie’s program to provide stable housing to four young adults at once from a home in southeastern EP.
The five nonprofits serving Eden Prairie residents in need – and in some cases, residents beyond Eden Prairie – were invited to share numbers as part of the city council’s efforts to learn more about the organizations’ work and the people helped.
“You see our constituents,” said Mayor Ron Case. “I think we’d like to learn more about them.”
The nonprofits serve a wide range of ages, races, and ethnicities. Most of their clients live in Eden Prairie apartments as opposed to single-family homes, agency leaders generally agreed.
The reasons for seeking help are also wide-ranging and largely unchanged – job loss, illness, divorce, mental health issues, and more – but recent inflation has added to the problem.
“Basic living costs have gone up. That’s generated a lot more (client) traffic,” said Jenifer Loon, executive director of PROP, a food shelf that also provides help with other needs, including emergency housing.
“Demand just keeps growing,” she added.
The nonprofits are facing challenges in keeping up with the demand. PROP, for example, currently has the capacity to fill about 720 food requests per month, Loon said, but with volunteers’ help another “shift” will be added in October to push capacity over the 800 food request mark.
Similarly, a Senior Community Services program called Household and Outdoor Maintenance (HOME) provides senior citizens with housekeeping, lawn mowing, and snow shoveling so seniors can continue living in their homes. But, some HOME services are at capacity, and additional seniors can’t be helped until SCS finds more volunteers and paid contractors, said Jon Burkhow, who directs the HOME program.
Onward Eden Prairie, in recognizing that more young people need stable housing, has a growth plan that would add a second house and an independent living program, said Executive Director Tricia Wright, but those plans will require more community support.
Bloomington/Eden Prairie Meals on Wheels is looking for an EP church or meals-preparation site to match its Bloomington facility, said Program Director Wendy Vossen.
Several nonprofits, including PROP and Senior Community Services, receive federal grants and local funds distributed through the city and other local government units, but donations from individuals, families, and businesses – in addition to foundation grants – support much of their work.
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