My Elena Gutiérre often hears the stories. Latino families in central Minnesota share apartments because each family cannot afford its own rent. Children are hungry because parents do not know where to find food stamps. Others who have been forced to continue working due to illness for fear of missing their rent payments.

As the leader of Fe y Justicia, a faith-based organization run by Latinx, Gutiérre works to help families who fall through the cracks due to language barriers, fear and inaccessibility. Latinx is a gender-neutral term for “Latino” or “Latina”.

As part of a new collaboration with Stearns County, Fe y Justicia will soon be able to fund a rental navigator that will help Spanish speakers in the county apply for rental assistance and navigate other resources available to them. .

The position was approved by Stearns County Council at its Tuesday meeting and will be paid for with $ 100,000 from the US Federal Salvage Program.

County human resources administrator Melissa Huberty said the position will only be funded for one year, but there is a possibility that the position will be renewed if the county finds additional funding.

Rental Navigator

Gutiérre first immigrated from Mexico to the United States about 35 years ago, and when she arrived in Minnesota, she saw a need in the Latino community.

“There was no one who spoke English or organized for the Latino community,” she said. “So we started to organize. We are trying to change the things that we see that are wrong.”

As part of the new hire navigator position, Gutiérre said she wanted to hire a Spanish-speaking person who understands the unique experiences of Latinxes and immigrants in central Minnesota. The station would be configured as a telephone hotline, with the rental navigator providing assistance and putting people in touch with the resources they need.

“It is very important to hire someone who speaks Spanish,” she said. “We explain in our own language because they trust us, they trust our organization… We want someone who speaks Spanish and understands the community.”

Gutiérre said she will try to publish the post on Fe y Justicia’s website next week. As part of the funding, Fe y Justicia will also be able to put callers in touch with public assistance programs or refer them to local organizations that can help them.

“We want our community [be treated] with respect and dignity, “she said.” It is not because a person [who] asked for rent [help] has no values, it is because they are going through something. Our organization wants to treat everyone the same. ”

Becca Most is an urban reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Contact her at 320-241-8213 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @becca_most.

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