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Ramsey County has approved a lease agreement with M Health Fairview to utilize Bethesda Hospital in Saint Paul as an emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness. The lease is in effect from Dec. 1, 2020, through May 31, 2022. The facility provides 100+ beds and 24/7 services for those experiencing homelessness through spring 2022. Ramsey County has partnered with The Salvation Army to lead day-to-day operations and management of the emergency shelter.
- Read frequently asked questions
- Take our shelter and housing stability survey
- View the site on Google Maps
- Contact M Health Fairview regarding closure of Bethesda Hospital
Beginning in May 2021, The Salvation Army will operate the Bethesda Shelter through the existing referral process for other East Metro shelters like Safe Space, Higher Ground and Union Gospel Mission. Once accepted, Bethesda guests will have access to the facility and its on-site programming. Services will be provided by staff members trained in trauma-informed care, person-centered thinking and motivational interviewing skills. Staff are also trained in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques and have First Aid and CPR training.
Day-to-day operations managed by The Salvation Army will include:
- Personalized intake and situational assessments, including the development of a housing and service plan.
- Daily programming that identifies income sources, benefits, transportation and employment services, as well as a how-to on accessing personal documents.
- Connecting guests with permanent housing opportunities and other community resources.
The facility also offers the following amenities:
- Restrooms, showers, laundry, a kitchen, dining facilities and multiple elevator banks.
- Conscientious COVID-19 precautions and practices and the ability to provide a safe, isolated respite for people who were exposed to or have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Around-the-clock site security provided by Ramsey County and M Health Fairview through a security services agreement, with an emphasis on de-escalation and trauma-informed responses for the building, its entrances and grounds immediately surrounding the building.
Bethesda Shelter contact information
In the event of an emergency, call 911.
To report a non-emergency incident, please call the following 24/7 numbers:
- Bethesda grounds and garden: Ramsey County security | 612-702-7124
- Parking ramp: Bethesda (M Health Fairview) | 651-471-5555
- Neighborhood: Saint Paul Police Department | 651-291-1111
Parking ramp contacts
For questions about parking ramp contracts, contact the parking ramp management at 651-802-8067.
Single adults who are 22 years or older and seeking immediate shelter can call Catholic Charities - Higher Ground (formerly the Dorothy Day Center) at 651-647-2350 and choose option #7. Single men can also call Union Gospel Mission at 651-292-1721.
Since 2019, a county-city staff workgroup has regularly met to develop and act on solutions that address unsheltered homelessness. The current COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic downturn has only further exacerbated the present housing crisis. With more people pushed into housing instability and/or homelessness, the need for additional action on this issue, even temporarily, is overwhelming – especially as we head into another Minnesota winter.
The total number of shelter beds regularly in use in the East Metro currently exceeds 750. We have been working with our partners to expand shelter bed capacity – most recently by adding 194 new beds through lease agreements with hotels and Mary Hall and expanding the Winter Safe Space to year-round operation. But even with these added beds, there is still an estimated 300 of our neighbors sleeping outdoors in Saint Paul each night.
As part of a larger organizational restructuring that would close Bethesda Hospital, M Health Fairview approached Ramsey County in mid-September 2020 with the possibility of leasing the building for an emergency shelter. On Oct. 20, 2020, following a virtual community open house and additional community conversation, the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward on a lease agreement with M Health Fairview. The $1.2 million lease spans two winters, beginning December 1, 2020, through May 31, 2022.
We have been doing outreach across the county about homelessness over the past several years and consistently get feedback from residents around the county who want us to provide resources and shelter to people facing these challenges. We want to hear from the community as our plans for the Bethesda site progress and services come online. The county held virtual town hall meetings on Oct. 8, Oct. 29 and Nov. 9 and will continue to engage the surrounding community and neighbors in the weeks and months ahead.
Watch recordings of previous town halls
- Ramsey County’s Housing Stability Virtual Town Hall – Nov. 9
- Virtual town hall to discuss housing stability in Ramsey County and the Bethesda Hospital site – Oct. 29, 2020
- Virtual town hall with Commissioners MatasCastillo and Ortega (passcode: VMr7i8M=) – Oct. 8, 2020
Community letters of support
- Saint Paul Downtown Alliance
- Ramsey County Citizens Advisory Council
- Written comments presented to the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board from Capitol Heights Block Club, Capitol Heights City Homes Home Owners Association, Christ on Capitol Hill Lutheran Church, City of Saint Paul, Education Minnesota, Frogtown Neighborhood Association and Kraus Anderson
- Mid-Sept. 2020: Ramsey County is first approached by M Health Fairview about Bethesda Hospital site.
- Oct. 6, 2020: First Board of Commissioners meeting to discuss site proposal. Watch the video (begins at 25:25)
- Oct. 8, 2020: Virtual town hall with Commissioners MatasCastillo and Ortega. Watch the video (passcode: VMr7i8M=)
- Oct. 13, 2020: Second Board of Commissioners meeting to discuss site proposal. Watch the video
- Oct. 20, 2020: Board of Commissioners vote to approve lease agreement with M Health Fairview. Watch the video
- Oct. 29, 2020: Virtual town hall to discuss housing stability in Ramsey County and the Bethesda Hospital site. Watch the video
- Nov. 9, 2020: Virtual town hall to discuss housing stability in Ramsey County and the Bethesda Hospital site. Watch the video
- Nov. 25, 2020: Service provider RFQ issued
- Dec. 16, 2020: Ramsey County met with Capital Area Architectural and Planning Board meeting and obtained approval to open Bethesda as a shelter
- Dec. 22 and 23, 2020: Bethesda Shelter and Respite programs open for residents
- April 15, 2021: Ramsey County partners with The Salvation Army to lead the day-to-day operations and management of the emergency shelter
In the media
Salvation Army to manage homeless shelter in former Bethesda Hospital
Pioneer Press, April 16, 2021
Ramsey County partners with Salvation Army to manage Bethesda Shelter site
Press release, April 15, 2021
Ramsey County moves forward with converting Bethesda Hospital to homeless shelter
Minnesota Public Radio, Oct. 20, 2020
Ramsey County Board approves lease to turn Bethesda Hospital into homeless shelter
Star Tribune, Oct. 20, 2020
Ramsey County approves $1.2 million lease with Fairview for Bethesda Hospital, outlines programs
Pioneer Press, Oct. 20, 2020
Ramsey County agrees to lease Bethesda Hospital for homeless shelter
KARE-11, Oct. 20, 2020
Ramsey County Board of Commissioners approves lease of Bethesda Hospital site for emergency shelter space
Press release, Oct. 20, 2020
Cold, COVID-19 complicate situation for people without shelter
KSTP, Oct. 17, 2020
Convert Bethesda Hospital into a homeless shelter? Plan draws vocal support, opposition
Pioneer Press, Oct. 9, 2020
Neighbors object to plan to convert St. Paul hospital into a homeless shelter
Star Tribune, Oct. 9, 2020
Ramsey County considers turning Bethesda Hospital into homeless shelter
Star Tribune, Oct. 6, 2020
Ramsey County sees Bethesda as possible solution for homeless
Pioneer Press, Oct. 6, 2020
Ramsey County exploring leasing part of Bethesda Hospital
KSTP, Oct. 6, 2020