Mille Lacs County has approved a new group residence housing contract to keep the 16-unit Belle Haven townhomes in Princeton running to “prevent the homelessness of 16 families,” as stated on the agenda of the Dec. 17 Mille Lacs County Board meeting. The board approved a seven-month group residence housing contract beginning Dec. 1, 2013, and ending next June 30 with RS EDEN, Twin Cities, to run the Belle Haven Townhomes.
RS EDEN is a Twin Cities nonprofit that develops and operates affordable housing for the homeless, many of whom are recovering from substance abuse. All RS EDEN supportive housing developments include on-site case management, employment assistance, sober social activities and referral assistance.
Mille Lacs County had a group housing contract with Rum River Health Services for operating Belle Haven prior to Dec. 1, according to Mille Lacs County Social Services Disability Unit Supervisor Beth Crook.
The Princeton-based nonprofit Rum River Health Services closed its doors on Sept. 20 this year with little notice after operating for more than 25 years. Its sudden closing left a wake of questions from a number of people who had either worked for the nonprofit, had contracted with it or had received services from it. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has been investigating Rum River Health Service’s compliance with its licensing requirements.
The Belle Haven townhomes, which are located just west of the Highway 169 bypass and north of First Street, are home to individuals who have either gone through primary chemical dependency treatment or are still in it and need shelter.
RS EDEN had been involved in the operation of Belle Haven for years but the actual group housing contract that Mille Lacs County had in running Belle Haven was with Rum River Health Services prior to Dec. 1, according Crook.
Crook told the County Board during its Dec. 17 meeting that she understood that RS EDEN had indicated it did not want to have a “long term” involvement in operating Belle Haven. But that has “probably changed,” Crook told the Union-Eagle on Dec. 26.
According to Crook, all 16 of the Belle Haven townhomes are occupied.
A county commissioner asked Mille Lacs County Administrator Roxy Traxler on Dec. 17 about who owns Belle Haven. Traxler said a limited partnership owns it.
City also has questions
The city of Princeton’s consulting attorney, Damien Toven, also has questions about Rum River Health Services in its handling of the city’s economic development authority loan to buy computer equipment. The city is owed more than $22,814, plus interest on the loan, according to minutes of the Nov. 21, 2013, EDA meeting.
Toven told the EDA board then that he understood in talking with Rum River Health Services interim executive director Gail Kulick that the nonprofit is filing for bankruptcy. Toven said the city would be named as a creditor in the bankruptcy filing and that the debt it has with the city would be listed on the bankruptcy petition.
The reason for why Rum River Health Services “went under and what they did with the funds will come out eventually,” Toven also told the EDA board. Under questioning from EDA Board Member Cindy Riddle about whether anyone responsible for any possible wrongdoing at RRHS would be held accountable, Toven said that is “hard to determine.”