Ramsey County extended its funding Tuesday for a St. Paul nonprofit that runs the county's only day shelter for homeless families downtown.
The county quickly took action in September to provide $175,000 in short-term funding through Dec. 15 for Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul. The nonprofit took over the Family Place day center when it abruptly closed.
On Tuesday, the County Board unanimously approved another $600,000 for Interfaith Action to run the center, which was renamed the Project Home Day Center, until December 2020. The center serves about 40 homeless adults and children during the day when overnight shelters aren't open, providing free meals, showers, lockers and a safe space.
"Interfaith Action really stepped up quickly and responded to our need of running that day shelter," Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo said at the meeting.
The county notified more than 100 contractors of its request for proposals, but Interfaith Action was the only one to submit a bid, according to a county memo. The county said it could renew the contract with Interfaith Action for four one-year periods.
"We wouldn't be able to do it otherwise," Randi Roth, executive director of Interfaith Action, said of the county aid. "We're hoping it's a fruitful five-year relationship."
After nearly two decades, the Family Place closed its doors at the end of August, citing a lack of funding. It's the only day center in the county, though the Family Service Center in Maplewood provides both day and overnight space.
The leader of the Family Place told the Star Tribune the organization "ran out of money" and had seen a decrease in foundation grants and individual donations. Then the county, which had funded the Family Place since 2001, didn't renew its contract when it ended in July, not publicly citing any specific reason.
On Sept. 1, with less than two weeks' notice, Interfaith Action took over the day shelter. The nonprofit, which has 32 staff members and a $2 million annual budget, has coordinated 40 overnight emergency shelter beds for more than two decades, rotating among 24 churches and synagogues. Many of those 40 adults and children now go to the Project Home Day Center at First Baptist Church. There, Interfaith Action added a children's area and a new caseworker who helps families find housing and jobs.
"It really gives us a great chance," Roth said, "to do the very best we can for our families."