Day center operations for people facing homelessness will continue Rochester’s Silver Lake Station through the summer.
The Rochester City Council voted 6-1 to approve up to $158,000 in funding from available federal grants to contract with The Landing MN, which has been operating the site for the city since November.
“I like the idea of bridging a little bit further through the pandemic,” Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said, voicing support for the council's decision, which was followed by Park Board approval Tuesday.
The day center operation was slated to end May 15 under the city’s existing contract with The Landing.
Council member Shaun Palmer, who cast the sole vote against the contract extension, said he believes the Salvation Army’s day services can cover the existing needs.
“I do not see this as a need for the city of Rochester,” he said.
Council President Brooke Carlson said the need for daytime space exceeds what the Salvation Army can provide, adding that the day center provides a safe place for people to gather, which addresses law enforcement and business concerns.
The contract extension will cover approximately $34,000 a month in staffing costs, $10,000 a month for food expenses, and $1,000 in monthly utilities.
In November, The Landing signed a six-month contract with the city, securing $200,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security funds for operations.
After months of operating the day center at Mayo Civic Center, the city used another $200,000 in federal funds for $182,000 in renovations to the Silver Lake site and to fund start-up costs related to fixtures, furniture and equipment.
The site has become a place people can turn to escape cold weather, be served a meal, and connect to other services.
In February, at least 156 unique individuals were served at the location, which has been used to provide connections to county and nonprofit efforts to provide long-term housing. In the past 11 months, 144 people have been housed through combined efforts related to COVID-19 responses that provided day center and nightly warming center operations.
Olmsted County recently reported that Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota has secured funding for nightly warming center operations at 200 Fourth St. SE through the end of the year.