As Temperatures Drop, Advocates Work To Get COVID-Weary People Experiencing Homelessness Into Shelters – WCCO


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Shelters and housing advocates in the Twin Cities are preparing for the drop in temperatures coming this week.

Steve Horsfield, executive director of Simpson Housing Services, says he’s feeling pressure.

“We know the cold weather’s coming,” Horsfield said. “This is Minnesota. It’s not a mystery.”

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Simpson’s Minneapolis shelter has more than 60 beds, and Horsfield expects to see some new faces soon.

“People have been declining to go into shelter because of fear of COVID, and at some point in here there’s the threat of cold weather starts to outweigh that,” Horsfield said.

Mary’s Place near Target Field offers 100 units of longer-term transitional housing. Eleven-year-old Rahma Osman’s lived there for two years with her mother.

“With winter starting I am very scared for all the other people here, and how other people on the street are going to live in winter time,” Osman said.

Mary Jo Copeland, the founder and director of Mary’s Place and Sharing and Caring Hands, says she encourages people to get inside this time of year, but she can only do so much.

“They don’t want to stay in the shelter because when you get in the shelter, sometimes they rip off even the coat you have,” Copeland said. “It’s really hard.”

For those who want, there is some space available in Hennepin County. Moving the most vulnerable from shelters to county-leased hotels has helped. A spokesperson with the county says 30-40 shelter beds go unused every night, as well as more than 40 private rooms for families.

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Horsfield says it’s important to get information about bed availability out to the caseworkers and street outreach workers who work with homeless people to get them indoors.

According to Hennepin County, 540 people per day are being housed in county-leased hotels. Sixty-two people have moved from hotels to permanent housing.

Single adults in need of shelter can call Adult Shelter Connect at 612-248-2350.

Families can call the Hennepin County Family Shelter Team at 612-348-9410.



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