MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that $15 million more in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan will go toward helping emergency shelters in Minnesota, specifically for upgrades to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in the homeless population.

In a statement, the governor said the funding will support the state’s Emergency Service Program grants, which are competitively awarded to organizations that provide emergency shelter and essential services to the homeless. Funding will be prioritized to investments that acquire or modify shelter space to better prevent against virus outbreaks.

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“Every Minnesotan deserves a safe, warm place to sleep at night, especially as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Walz said. “Minnesota’s shelters save lives and have been critical to our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.”

Earlier this month, the governor announced that $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds would be managed through a state-level interagency emergency response team focused on responding to existing outbreaks in shelters. Those funds would cover expenses for room leasing costs, added personnel, and other supplies, such as food and air filtration devices.

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The American Rescue Plan provides $8.5 billion to Minnesota to support COVID-19 recovery efforts, the governor’s office says. The funding includes $2.8 billion for the state government, which leaders have decided to split into three categories: immediate pandemic response, long-term recovery, and state revenue replacement.

The allocation falls into the immediate response category, which has a pool of $500 million. The governor’s office says additional allocations for immediate relief will be announced in the coming months.

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