County approves funding for extended homeless shelter hours

The Hennepin County Board recently approved funding for two Minneapolis homeless shelters that have extended their morning hours.

The board voted March 3 to approve $100,000 in additional funding for Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground shelter, 165 Glenwood Ave., and Simpson Housing Service’s overnight shelter, 2740 1st Ave. S.

The shelters expanded their hours earlier this winter. Higher Ground’s 171-bed emergency shelter is now open 5 p.m.–10 a.m. The pay-for-stay shelter, which has 80 beds, is open 4 p.m.­–10 a.m.

The Simpson shelter, which has 44 beds for men and 22 for women, is open 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.

The extra time in the morning gives shelter guests a chance to connect with county case managers, said Tracy Berglund, director of housing and emergency services at Catholic Charities.

“That communication piece is really important,” she said.

Catholic Charities is also opening a Higher Ground facility in St. Paul, which is on track to open in October 2016. It will have 278 shelter units and 193 single-room units for men and women, Berglund said.

The number of single adults in Hennepin County shelters has hovered around 850 to 1,000 the past couple of years, according to a recent update by Mikkel Beckmen, director of the joint city-county Office to End Homelessness. Family homelessness, meanwhile, has decreased slightly this year.

The county is also on track to end homelessness among veterans in coming months, he said.

The extended shelter hours is part of a broader effort to end street homelessness downtown. The Downtown Council/DID is spearheading a campaign to increase daytime activities and opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and encourage people to contribute to organizations working on ending homelessness rather than people panhandling on the street.