Our Response to COVID-19 (Updated 9/17/20)

Fall Update

St. Stephen’s Safety Committee and Executive Team have determined that St. Stephen’s will continue to work as remotely as possible through March 31, 2021. Thus far in the pandemic, the majority of client interactions at our main office have happened outside. We know that is unsustainable for a Minnesota winter, and we are working diligently to reconfigure indoor spaces for safe, socially distanced interactions.  

If you plan to make a donation from our wish list over the next several months, we will continue to request that you make a drop-off appointment in advance, and that you wear a face covering, even if the interaction happens outside. Thank you for helping us maximize safety for all.

Here are a few updates on how our various programs are adapting to serve clients: 

  • All Early Intervention program models continue to deliver services virtually. We anticipate seeing a large spike in demand once the eviction moratorium is lifted, as more households in our community will be facing more immediate and impactful housing crises. We are making a plan for how we can assist as many households as possible while operating within the scope of our current funding contracts, and also staying apprised of what new or evolved resources we can refer folks to when our funds are expended each month. 

  

  • Our Street Outreach team continues to try to serve as many people as possible, including many folx who have recently fallen into homelessness, and to coordinate closely with our shelter team to maximize the rooms we have available for unsheltered clients at the hotel location. Read more about how our Street Outreach team has pivoted to meet current needs here.

 

  • Clients in our Shelter Program continue to be served through a single hotel location with 24/7 staffing.  While there have been challenges operating shelter programming in this new model, we are proud to share that to date, 23 individuals have moved out of hotel shelter and into stable housing. Because of the physical distancing that the hotel setting allows, we have had zero cases of COVID-19 among shelter guests since the start of the pandemic. Many guests have been able to secure new employment due to 24-hour access to a private room that allows guests to sleep according to the schedule that best suits their needs. With an end to COVID-related funds for hotel operations looming, we are facing a return to shelter spaces that reduce the number of beds system-wide while a pandemic and cold weather conditions threaten the health and safety of our clients.

 

  • Housing continues to be stabilized by direct rental subsidies, and landlord negotiation. In some cases, this has involved reminding landlords of current limitations on least terminations due to Minnesota’s Executive orders. Our Single Adult Supportive Housing Program is building new landlord relationships. During this economic downturn, supportive services and guaranteed rent create a strong pull for landlords. 

 

  • In our Family Programs, many families are adjusting to the idea of long-term distance learning -- including adjusting expectations of the feasibility of caregivers working outside of the home. We anticipate that the combination of “school from home” and limited job opportunities may mean some families’ time in the Family Rapid Re-Housing Program will need to be extended. Nevertheless, the Family Rapid ReHousing Program has housed 42 families (and counting!) since mid-March. 

 

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have needed to reduce the number of on-site volunteers. Currently, our volunteer team is assisting by sorting donations, providing support at the shelter hotel, translating housing support documents, making face masks for clients, and dropping off donations of our most-needed items. Through these ever-changing times, our long-time and new volunteers alike have demonstrated remarkable flexibility, and we are so grateful for that! 

May 26th Update

 

  • St. Stephen's operations patterns (with all employees who can work remotely doing so as much as possible) will continue through at least July 6th.

April 29th Update

This week, we are collaboratively relocating all current St. Stephen's shelter guests as well as a significant number of unsheltered homeless adults to a hotel, where St. Stephen's and Our Saviour's Community Services will jointly provide they will jointly provide case management services. Read more about the coordinated changes that five single adult shelter providers in Hennepin County are making here.


March 26th Update

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.


March 17th Update

At St. Stephen’s Human Services, we serve people who are at greater risk of physical and economic harm from COVID-19 and its ripple effects. Our programs and services continue to operate (with some modifications), and we are committed to maintaining these essential services for as long as we can safely do so. 

Everyone who can practice social distancing should, and our staff are in a position to do this while still providing high-quality, dignified services to those who do not have the privilege of a home and/or resources to meet their basic needs. We will help the vulnerable people we serve navigate these uncertain and unprecedented times. Being present for those in need is core to the mission and values of St. Stephen’s. 

We are reviewing our strategies daily, and this is what St. Stephen’s is doing as of March 17th: 

  • We are actively engaging in collaborative preparation and response planning with Hennepin County officials, and with other service providers. 

  • Our Welcome Center hours of 8:30am to 4:00pm remain the same, but visitors will be greeted individually at the front door.  

  • All staff who can work remotely are teleworking as much as possible.

  • Our two emergency shelters and Street Outreach team are committed to staying open and available as long as it is safe to do so.  

  • Our housing case managers will continue to support our clients, meeting over the phone with families and individuals whenever possible. Our Next Step Assessors will be conducting assessments with families via phone. 

  • With some modifications, we are continuing to provide basic and critical services to our community – including sustaining access to mail and birth certificates for community members who receive those at St. Stephen’s, and providing uninterrupted representative payee services. 

  • A Day in the Life tours have been canceled through April 29th. 

  • We have temporarily narrowed the list of in-kind donations we are accepting to 14 critical items. Anyone wishing to donate these items should please schedule a drop-off in advance with Amanda (AHancer(at)ststephensmpls.org or 612-481-9501). 

  • St. Stephen’s does not have any public events scheduled within the next eight weeks. Our Italian Dinner (currently scheduled for May 19th) and event at 612Brew (currently scheduled for June 10th) will be reviewed at a later date. 

  • If you have questions about specific programs or services, please call our Welcome Center at 612-874-0311. 

We will, of course, continue to monitor the evolving situation very closely, and will follow any directives from the appropriate authorities. Any changes, as they are needed, will be reflected on this page. 

For information about how you can help us navigate this new territory, click here. 


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