ROCHESTER, Minn. -
There are two emergency shelters in Rochester - Dorothy Day and the Rochester Community Warming Center. Both provide 15 beds but the County estimates there are 123 unsheltered people.
One of those unsheltered is Michael Gates. He spends his days at the Mayo Civic Center Day Center - and spends nights at Dorothy Day Hospitality House. He doesn't mince words when it comes to the hardships of homelessness.
"What it's like is being scared most of the time, being anxious, being suicidal, I would think anybody that is actually homeless goes through those thoughts," Gates said.
Alex Hurlebaus is the Director of Social Services for the Landing MN Inc. It's a non-profit that helps people in need. He believes it's humanity's duty to help those most vulnerable.
"They can't go without that voice, they can't go without somebody standing up for them," Hurlebaus said. "We need that, you take a walk in this city, you see people struggling, you see people with no where to go at night, that doesn't feel acceptable. I feel like we could always be improving if that's what we're seeing."
Hurlebaus has been to big cities around the country - where homelessness has gotten out of hand.
"What we don't want is to become that," Hurlebaus said. "We want to help people while it's still a manageable situation, while it's still something we can do."
Hurlebaus is of the belief that giving shelter to someone in need isn't just the charitable thing to do - it's the right thing to do.
"We could be doing more, if anybody is going without a place to sleep at night, we could be doing more," Hurlebaus said.
Gates hopes people have compassion for the homeless.
"Everybody says they are homeless because they want to be. I've never met anybody who was homeless because they wanted to be," Gates said.
Olmsted County did open two new spaces - a 12-unit facility and a 15-unit facility. They serve as transitional housing for people in need.