Thirty rooms are being prepared to house people facing homelessness as Olmsted County prepares to close its nightly center in Mayo Civic Center.
“The use at the Civic Center has remained strong,” said Dave Dunn, the county’s housing director.
The nightly center, which is an extension of the seasonal warming center operated through a partnership with Catholic Charities, has seen an average of 38 people a night in June. That’s down from an average of 42 since the center moved from 200 4th St. SE in March.
As of Monday, another 13 individuals or families were housed in hotel rooms funded by the county, which is down from 25 on May 19.
“That number will be going down again, as we have a couple who have housing options that will open up to them,” Dunn said.
The county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority has budgeted approximately $900,000 in expenses for May and June, but Dunn said much of May’s expenses for housing homeless residents have been covered by the state, which is also expected to cover June emergency shelter costs.
Dunn said he also expects federal COVID-response funding, as well as other grants, will be available to be used to cover as much as $1.5 million in added levy expenses.
Commissioner Ken Brown said the funds need to start flowing through the state to help provide counties assurances that expenses will be covered.
“All that money is still sitting in St. Paul,” he said of federal support through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES act.
While funding is anticipated to help house people facing homelessness, 33 individuals and families have found housing through local services since March, and another 12 people facing homelessness have been assisted in returning to their home counties, where they have added support, according to Dunn.
The county is leasing 12 rooms at 2206 11th Ave. SE for people who are transitioning from the nightly shelter. The rooms will be available shortly, with leases secured through the end of the year.
Another 18 rooms are being leased at 105 N. Broadway Ave., with three rooms dedicated to people with confirmed COVID-19 cases. The county is expected to start moving people into those rooms later this month.
The rooms in both buildings will be reserved for people facing homelessness who are willing to work with county staff to meet established goals.
“These options are really intended for people who are ready for housing,” Dunn said, adding that 57 applications for the rooms have been received.
With other shelters still making plans to reopen, Dunn said the county will likely need to reopen the nightly center at 200 4th St. SE through July to provide safe options.