A pair of St. Paul Parks and Recreation facilities will be outfitted as emergency overnight homeless shelters through the end of the year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials say.
With 50 beds apiece, Harriet Island Pavilion and the Duluth and Case Recreation Center will act as overflow shelters when existing shelters at Catholic Charities, Union Gospel Mission and the Ramsey County Safe Space are full, according to a news release issued Tuesday by Mayor Melvin Carter’s office.
“Ensuring safe spaces for our neighbors is a critical priority that only gets more urgent as temperatures drop,” Carter said in the news release.
These overflow shelters will remain available through the end of December, when the conversion of Bethesda Hospital into a 100-bed non-emergency shelter is scheduled to be completed, the news release said.
City officials estimate more than 300 people are currently living outdoors in St. Paul.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the housing crisis that our relatives and neighbors have been facing for a long time,” Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan said in the city’s news release. “We know that shelter saves lives, and housing solves homelessness. This partnership is critical to provide these short- and long-term strategies to keep folks safe.”
The combined $500,000 budget for these temporary shelters will be shouldered by the city, Ramsey County and the state, the news release said.
The overflow shelters will be open between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. to men and women via referrals, primarily through Catholic Charities.