By ensuring safe and stable housing and shelter at St. Stephen’s, we are providing critical and essential services in our community. St. Stephen’s operations will not be directly affected by Governor Walz’ “stay at home” order scheduled to begin at midnight on March 27th. Staff who can work remotely will continue to do so, and duties that cannot be performed remotely will continue with as much social distancing as possible. All Street Outreach, shelter, and housing programs continue to meet clients’ needs to the very best of our abilities.
Like most shelters, St. Stephen’s two emergency overnight shelters normally open each evening and close each morning. As many community facilities are closing, and in order to provide safe, sanitary space for shelter guests to access, we have temporarily expanded operating hours for both of our shelters to 24/7, effective March 26th.
Moving to 24/7 shelter for more than a few days is unprecedented for St. Stephen’s.
In total, we expect the extended shelter operations to cost an additional $14,000 each week.
With the addition of daytime shelter operations, there are an extra 24 shifts to cover each week. Staff from across our organization are stepping up to help cover these shifts, and we have also hired a few new team members.
Though we are taking every precaution known to protect staff from exposure, our staff are putting themselves on the front lines of this crisis and the work is challenging. We value our employees’ commitment to the people we serve, and have instituted hazard pay for any shifts worked in our shelters or with our Street Outreach team.
In addition to staffing needs, we are also needing to add lunch service for approximately 100 people each day, and more substantial breakfast offerings. Plus, our custodial needs have increased and necessary measures for social distancing and isolation have added new supplies expenses.
This weekend, our Street Outreach team will also be moving to seven days/week to focus on monitoring campsites, providing a public health response, and ensuring people have food and items needed to shelter safely in place.
Our housing case managers continue to work (predominantly remotely) with clients to obtain and maintain stable housing.