Rochester's warming center has new location

Rochester is taking the steps to address homelessness by agreeing to fund a new warming center right across from the Government Center.

Posted: Aug 20, 2019 12:50 AM
Updated: Aug 20, 2019 6:27 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - After pushback from concerned Rochester citizens, the city is moving the location of a new warming shelter. The new shelter was supposed to go in the old Silver Lake Fire Station. But now City Council has decided to place it in a strip mall across from the Government Center.

The numbers show it's more than needed - there were almost 2,000 homeless people living in the county last year.

The city will commit $100,000 to make the space a warming center - hopefully by December. The Mayor and members of City Council say it's about time.

"First and foremost we know with winter, we know we have vulnerable residents," Dave Dunn, the Olmsted County housing director said. "We need to keep them safe, we want to be able to allow our clients that we serve the opportunity to get the services they need."

Mayor Kim Norton is touched by stories of heartbreak and has been unrelenting in her efforts to help the homeless.

"Corey, who lives in a van, who still lives a van because he doesn't want to give up his whole check, in order to live in supportive housing, he has a nice check and he wants to be able to keep that to feed his cats and to buy food and to go to the doctor when he needs to," Norton said.

City Council member Mark Bilderback concedes this move won't end homelessness but calls it a good start.

"They are people and need to be taken care of appropriately," Bilderback said.

The approximate cost to fund the center will be between 260 to 280 thousand dollars. 

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