ROCHESTER, Minn. - Homelessness continues to be an issue all across the nation and even more so during this pandemic. With the cold weather here for good, people in Rochester will soon be able to go to the former Silver Lake Fire Station to stay warm.
If you're familiar with downtown Rochester, then odds are you've seen a certain truck around town, handing out items to those in need. It's the mobile outreach unit with The Landing MN and soon, there will be something a little more stationary. The Landing at Silver Lake Station is going to be home to the day center in Rochester. The city approved $400,000 of CARES Act funding for the day center at the Mayo Civic Center, but those funds weren't used. So this is how The Landing at Silver Lake Station was able to come to life.
The co-founder and president, Dan Fifield, said with COVID-19 restrictions in place, there will be limited capacity. "We're thinking somewhere between 20 and 30 for this facility. Salvation Army will continue to be open with their area as well," explained Fifield. "One of the reason's that this was open is our population is more than 30 people. We need that overflow space, especially going into the winter months when it's just going to be brutally cold out. Salvation Army is going to get overrun and we need to be that relief of help if you will." Along with being able to take a shower and do laundry, people can have their information placed in the Coordinated Entry System, obtain health insurance and Fifield said they hope to eventually have an area for medical needs.
Fifield explained as of right now, the funding will allow them to operate through May, but he said homelessness is more than a 6 month issue. "This was our goal. Our goal early on was to start a day center and it's coming to fruition. It's a 6 month agreement with the city. It's a COVID response, as most everything anymore seems to be," explained Fifield. "We hope to extend it for many years after that, whether it's at this location or not, I don't know. But that's going to depend a lot on the support that we get from everybody in town."
The Landing at Silver Lake Station will begin operation on November 4th and it will be open 7 days a week starting at 8 in the morning until 7 at night. The mobile outreach unit will still be available and the day center at the Salvation Army will also be operating as well. Fifield said they're looking for volunteers, so if you're wanting to help out, you can head to their website.