The Rochester City Council will review three options Monday in response to a request to extend the use of the Silver Lake Station as a day center for people facing homelessness.
One option would end the use when the existing contract between the city and The Landing MN expires on Aug. 31.
The council could also agree to provide the space, without added funding, to the nonprofit for another eight months, as requested.
A proposed middle ground would provide a limited lease of the Silver Lake Station to cover service gaps after Aug. 31.
The Landing provides services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, and Rochester Public Library Director Audrey Betcher, who has been leading the city’s human services operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, has noted the end of operations would leave a gap in services between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Olmsted County provides space operated by Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota for nightly stays from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily, and the Salvation Army offers daytime services, along with noon meals, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
In a July 23 letter to the city council, leaders of The Landing and Salvation Army cited continued collaboration in efforts to serve people experiencing homelessness.
“The Landing MN and The Salvation Army are co-providers, not competitors,” states the letter signed by Dan and Holly Fifield of The Landing and Salvation Army Majors Lisa and Bob Mueller. “This collaborative effort helps us fill one another’s gaps and provides a broader safety net for the most vulnerable members of our community. We are better and stronger together.”
The letter follows recent council members' comments about potential redundancy of services.
In a report to the council ahead of Monday’s meeting, city staff said options for extending hours of other operations could be explored, if the agreement with The Landing ends, and the city will work with other agencies as needed to address any added responses.
The report also raises concerns about The Landing’s ability to operate without added financial support.
Since the city decided to use the Silver Lake Station as a day center, it has spent $875,000 in state and federal funds to renovate the building and support operations. The Landing has said no added city funding is needed.
Financial statements provided by The Landing show the organization has $450,000 in reserves from 2020 and the first half of 2021.
Dan Fifield, who said the organization has more than $500,000 in the bank, has said The Landing has seen an increase in donors and is making plans for a campaign to raise money to purchase property for its own day center.
Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has approved The Landing to receive $71,000 in Emergency Services Program funding, spread over two years.
With 12 day center staff members, along with the Fifields and Director of Social Services Alex Hurlebus, The Landing has reported its greatest individual expense is payroll, which accounted for $164,386 of $246,000 in total expenses during the first six months of this year.
The city is estimating the cost of operating the day center, without meals, at $34,000, which would total $272,000 for the requested eight-month extension.
City Administrator Alison Zelms told the council Monday that Parks and Recreation staff have indicated an extension of the agreement is viable, but the report to the council stops short of recommending a specific option.
The report does suggest potential terms of a lease extension through April 30, which would require The Landing to keep more substantial records to track services and outcomes. It would also allow the city to end the agreement with 30-day notice due to safety concerns or improper activity.
The council will review the options during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center. The meeting is open to the public, and it will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of July 25 include:
• City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
• City Council, 6 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
• Airport Commission, 2 p.m. Tuesday in room 104 of City Hall, 201 Fourth St. SE
• Park Board study session, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 104 of City Hall.
• Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers of the Government Center.
• Physical Development Committee, 8 a.m. Tuesday in conference room 2 of the government center.
• Administrative Committee, 8 a.m. Tuesday in board chambers of the government center.
• Board of County Commissioners, 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center.
• Public Health Services Advisory Board, 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 2100 Campus Drive SE in Rochester.
Rochester Public Schools
• School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.