Homeless families with children in the St. Paul schools will have a place to sleep despite the rooms at motels that had housed them being usurped by Super Bowl visitors.
The families were told last week that their motel housing wouldn’t be available for a 10-day period in late January and early February.
The St. Paul School District’s Project Reach set up a fundraiser last week with a goal of $25,000 and had planned to house a dozen or so families in a school building during the disruption. But this week, the district learned that the St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Department will be able to accommodate all of the families at three other locations it uses for its Cold Weather Shelter program.
“The services will remain the same, really just the locations for that period will change,” spokesman Chris Burns said.
The three locations could include churches and shelters, he said.
Toya Stewart Downey, a spokeswoman for St. Paul schools, said the district has been working on a plan to use schools as emergency shelters, for example, on extremely cold nights. The district received money to buy blankets and cots but hadn’t implemented that plan yet. The district thought that perhaps it would be a welcome idea during the Super Bowl.
“We realized through work and conversations with the county that a school for 10 days is not ideal,” she said. “We are still interested in using schools as emergency shelters for a cold-weather event or something like that but not for a long-term event.”
Stewart Downey said it’s impossible to tell how many families will need help during the Super Bowl. Over the past several weeks, 11 families — about 30 children and adults — have relied on the motel housing.
The fundraiser, which had grown to almost $13,000 by Wednesday night, still will be used to help homeless families, she said. Some of it will be used to help transport students between the shelters and their school.
“We’re certainly grateful for everybody who has donated money or resources or taken time to share this information on behalf of the families of St. Paul Public Schools,” she said.