Ramsey County will open its own 64-bed, year-round emergency homeless shelter in downtown St. Paul by Nov. 12.
The additional beds are needed to handle the rise in the number of homeless people, including an estimated 250 who used to ride the light-rail trains each night in lieu of shelter. Metro Transit eliminated overnight light-rail service in St. Paul on weeknights in August, citing the need to conduct maintenance.
The Ramsey County Board will consider a two-year, $1.2 million contract with Model Cities of St. Paul Inc. to operate the Safe Space shelter when it meets on Tuesday. The shelter will be in the old detox center at 160 E. Kellogg Blvd. In years past, the county has used the center for its Winter cold-weather emergency shelter.
The facility has been upgraded with a washer and dryer and other improvements, according to a county news release. Staff will help to connect those at the shelter with additional resources.
Other nonprofit homeless shelters in St. Paul have also vowed to add beds. This summer, Catholic Charities staff said they would add 36 beds at Higher Ground in downtown St. Paul, bringing its total number of emergency shelter beds to 356. Union Gospel Mission agreed to add 15 to 20 beds to its shelter, bringing its total of emergency beds to around 214.
Since 2015, the number of homeless people statewide has risen by 10% to 10,233, according to a Wilder Research report released in March. That’s the highest number recorded in the nearly three decades that Wilder has tracked.
County leaders cite a lack of affordable housing in the region as one of the causes.