April 29, 2020
St. Stephen’s moving shelter guests and programming to hotel location
To better protect the vulnerable populations we serve, our staff, and the general public from the spread of COVID-19, the five adult-shelter providers in Hennepin County are working in close coordination. By working together, we are in a better position to effectively respond to immediate needs and to elevate conversation about the future of emergency shelters in a post-COVID-19 world.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hennepin County single adult shelter system was overwhelmed by increasing rates of homelessness without sufficient resources. With growing rates of unsheltered homelessness in the region, adult emergency shelters in Hennepin County and their public partners were at times forced to turn vulnerable people away.
During the past two months, five shelter providers – Catholic Charities, Our Saviour’s Community Services, Salvation Army, Simpson Housing, and St. Stephen’s Human Services – have worked together on a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the adult homeless population.
- Group shelter settings create a high risk of COVID-19 transmission for guests, staff, and for the general public. Our shared goal from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis has been to isolate our most vulnerable guests and de-concentrate our congregate shelter settings sufficiently to allow for acceptable levels of personal safety and social distancing.
- The first phase was to isolate older guests and those with severe symptoms in a hotel space. This phase has been completed and was done in partnership with Hennepin County.
- The second phase is to proactively relocate guests from congregate settings to allow for further de-concentration before there is a cascading outbreak of COVID-19. This phase is currently in process.
- This week, St. Stephen’s and Our Saviour’s are relocating all current guests, as well as a significant number of unsheltered homeless adults to a hotel, where they will jointly provide case management services.
- Catholic Charities and Salvation Army are each relocating 100 shelter guests to a hotel, allowing them to further de-concentrate their congregate shelters.
- Simpson Housing shelter guests who were age 60+ or medically vulnerable have been moved to a hotel space, allowing Simpson to operate shelter more safely with a reduced number of guests. Shelters play an important role in this coordinated response.
- At the same time, we continue successfully moving people to permanent housing and that remains the ultimate goal in our coordinated work.
Moving vulnerable adults to hotel spaces is both the right thing to do and the compassionate thing to do. This effort safely increases overall capacity in the shelter system. Thanks to these collaborative efforts, hundreds of vulnerable Minnesotans are able to safely shelter in place. We are able to implement better social distancing practices in our shelters and we are able to minimize community spread. We continue to work with Adult Shelter Connect and Healthcare for the Homeless in this important work.
We are thankful to our funding partners and supporters for helping to make this happen. We especially appreciate our dedicated staff and volunteers who are fighting on the frontlines every single day to support people experiencing homelessness through this crisis.
What this looks like for St. Stephen’s specifically:
- By the end of this week, all shelter guests will be moved to a hotel. Operations will continue to be 24/7.
- Street Outreach will work with other partners to identify the most medically vulnerable unsheltered individuals, and move them into the same hotel.
- The latest updates on our program operations can always be found here: https://ststephensmpls.org/latest/covid-19-response
- Your support of St. Stephen’s during this challenging time is so greatly appreciated. Click here to make a financial gift, and click here for other ways to help.