Housing Stability in Ramsey County
Since 2019, a county and city staff workgroup has met regularly to develop and act on solutions that address a serious challenge many communities across the country are facing, including Ramsey County: unsheltered homelessness. The current COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic downturn have only further exacerbated the present housing crisis.
The pandemic has posed unique challenges for our shelter spaces, removing some existing capacity to apply safe social distancing guidelines and increasing the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. There are currently more than 300 people sleeping outdoors across Ramsey County on any given night. Because of this, Ramsey County, the City of Saint Paul and other partners have been working quickly since this spring to add additional shelter beds by this winter. The need for additional action on this issue, even temporarily, is overwhelming – especially as we face another Minnesota winter.
- Housing services and support for those experiencing homelessness.
- Take our shelter and housing stability survey.
Bethesda Hospital site
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 will be in effect from Dec. 1, 2020, through May 31, 2022. The facility will provide 100+ beds and 24/7 services for those experiencing homelessness through spring 2022.
Temporary shelter at Luther Seminary
Ramsey County has leased the vacant Stub Hall dormitory, located on the Luther Seminary campus in the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of Saint Paul, to house 70 women and some couples experiencing homelessness. This temporary shelter will be open December 15, 2020, through April 2021.
Project Home at the Provincial House
Ramsey County, Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are exploring an opportunity to use the Provincial House at 1880 Randolph Avenue in Saint Paul for safe shelter for approximately 20 families with children experiencing homelessness. The building served as offices and a residence for the Sisters for nearly 100 years and has been underutilized since 2010.
Interfaith Action, with financial support from Ramsey County, would operate the Provincial House as part of its Project Home program, which for 23 years has provided shelter and supportive services for families experiencing homelessness at area synagogues and churches, many in the Highland Park and Mac Groveland neighborhoods. Project Home at the Provincial House, combined with the shelters at synagogues and churches (which will re-open post-Covid), could significantly reduce or even eliminate the waiting list of families seeking shelter. Interfaith Action’s rapid exit support team would be on-site to help families find permanent and affordable housing and connect to employment and educational opportunities.
Community engagement opportunities
As a first step in the exploration process, the community was invited to learn more about the opportunity at two virtual town hall meetings.
- Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 (Watch a video of the town hall or download the presentation)
- Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 (Watch a video of the town hall or download the presentation)
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul has applied for a conditional use permit with the City of Saint Paul to use the Provincial House as a family shelter. The public will have an opportunity to provide comments on this application at a Zoning Committee hearing on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 3:30 p.m. (A link to the meeting will be posted on the City’s website this week.) You can share your input on the proposed family shelter by emailing your comments to [email protected] by noon on Feb. 24, or by testifying during the meeting. (Previously submitted comments will be included in the public record for the upcoming public hearing.) The Zoning Committee’s recommendation will go to the Planning Commission for a vote on Friday, March 5. Pending approvals, the proposed family shelter could open in March.
Day shelter at West 7th St. neighborhood
The City of Saint Paul has opened a day shelter in the West 7th St. neighborhood to provide services to individuals experiencing homelessness. The project creates additional indoor space for unsheltered individuals to escape weather conditions, access bathrooms and connect one-on-one with essential social services on site. Services are open available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and are supported by funding from Ramsey County. The day shelter will be open through January 2022.
Refer people to emergency housing
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.
Families with at least one minor child in need of emergency shelter should call 211, the United Way’s Helpline and Crisis Line, for a prescreen. If a family is currently unsheltered, they can also call Ramsey County’s Homeless Services Team directly during business hours at 651-266-7818.
Anyone age 24 or younger can connect with a variety of resources by visiting the Youth Services Network website (ysnmn.org) or by downloading the YSN mobile app for free. Youth who need emergency help with food, clothing or finding a place to stay can call Safe Zone at 651-224-9644 or visit the SafeZone Drop-In Center for Homeless Youth, 130 East 7th Street, Saint Paul, MN 55101.
Youth ages 12-24 who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless may also contact the Youth Resource Line through the YMCA 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week at 763-493-3052. YMCA staff will assist in problem-solving information on community resources and referrals; resources include food shelves, housing, employment, legal services, education, and health care.
Homelessness prevention through landlord assistance
In an effort to prevent evictions and support landlords whose tenants have been unable to pay rent because of COVID-19, Ramsey County has launched a Landlord Assistance Program. Landlords with properties in Ramsey County may be eligible to apply for up to $20,000 in reimbursement per rental unit for tenants’ missed rent payments and/or unpaid fees due to hardships caused by COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 through Dec. 30, 2020.
Expanded services for unsheltered families
Ramsey County is expanding its Rapid Rehousing and outreach services for unsheltered families through its Emergency Solutions Grant. Ramsey County is investing $500,000 to expand its Rapid Rehousing program that provides short-term rental assistance and additional services to adults, youth and families experiencing homelessness. The program offers an apartment with subsidized rent for one year, with a partner provider arranging for the apartment, a rental subsidy and wraparound services.
Ramsey County is also investing $250,000 to expand its outreach to the rising number of families experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Outreach teams will connect families with children to the region’s homeless response network for families.
Along with these new spaces and expanded programs, hours will be extended for day services at Ramsey County’s Safe Space shelter and the Saint Paul Opportunity Center. In 2020, Ramsey County has also funded 25 more beds at the Voices of East African Women family shelter on Selby Ave., up to 75 new slots for long-term housing providers and up to 165 slots for assisted living providers through the state’s Housing Support program.
We want to hear from the community as our housing stability plans progress and services come online in the weeks and months ahead.
Watch recordings of previous housing stability town halls
- Project Home family shelter at the Provincial House – Jan. 5, 2021, from 5-6:30 p.m.
- Project Home family shelter at the Provincial House – Dec. 21, 2020
- Women’s and couple’s shelter at Luther Seminary – Nov. 17, 2020
- Day shelter in the W. 7th St. neighborhood (hosted by City of Saint Paul) – Nov. 10, 2020
- Ramsey County’s Housing Stability Virtual Town Hall – Nov. 9, 2020
- 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 engagement report
In December 2020, Ramsey County released a report on its initial community engagement around housing stability efforts. Read the housing stability community engagement report.
Our commitment to housing stability
Since 2015, Ramsey County has worked closely with a network of government, nonprofit, public safety, business and other community partners on the unsheltered homelessness crisis. A few examples of programs and initiatives include:
Redirecting Users of Shelter to Housing (RUSH)
A public/private partnership that works with the longest-term shelter users in Ramsey County to transition to stable housing, while opening greater access to emergency shelters.
A county initiative that engages in public outreach with people experiencing homelessness and who are unable to access housing or shelter due to addiction or family units.
Frequently asked questions
How can I refer people to any of the available emergency shelters?
Ramsey County works with a variety of local agencies to provide resources for people who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of becoming homeless or need emergency assistance to stay in their homes. Learn more about referral services.
How many people are sleeping outside in Ramsey County?
An estimated 300 people are currently sleeping outside each night across Ramsey County. Our end goal, through both short-term and long-term solutions implemented with the support of various public and private partners, is to get everyone off the street and safely inside.
Many of the current sites and solutions only work in the short-term. What long-term solutions is the county investing in to help address homelessness?
Over the past several years, the county has been working closely with a network of government, nonprofit, public safety, business and other community partners on the unsheltered homelessness crisis. This includes providing long-term shelter users with stable housing, connecting unsheltered individuals with resources and offering low-barrier emergency shelter during winter months.
Most recently, Ramsey County has launched a Landlord Assistance Program in an effort to prevent evictions while supporting landlords whose tenants have been unable to pay rent because of COVID-19. The county has also expanded its Rapid Rehousing program for unsheltered families, which provides short-term rental assistance and additional services to adults, youth and families experiencing homelessness. In addition, Ramsey County is also investing in the program’s outreach so it can properly connect with the rising number of families experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Much still needs to be done, and the county is actively advocating for additional funding from the state to support these efforts. More options for moving out of homelessness and into affordable housing are needed across the state.
Will there be COVID-19 health screenings and precautions at these shelters?
Since March, we have been working with our partners at shelters across the county to put in place strategies to ensure staff and clients are safe and have resources and care in the event they get sick. Currently, we do special testing within our shelter spaces as needed. People who show symptoms or test positive are placed in a respite site so they can be in isolation and quarantine.
We’ve been successful in keeping infection rates low and will continue to use these strategies at all new locations. At the Bethesda Hospital site, a special area of the building will be used to provide COVID-19 respite care and symptom monitoring currently provided for a small number of individuals at the former Boys Totem Town site.
Will these additional resources replace Ramsey County’s services of providing people experiencing homelessness with hotel rooms?
These new resources will add to the capacity at a time when shelters and congregate settings need to be spread out for safety during COVID-19.
How is Ramsey County addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness?
Ramsey County is finalizing a series of actionable recommendations for how it can best serve youth experiencing homelessness. In the meantime, other county partners and service providers including Lutheran Social Services, Salvation Army, Ain Dah Yung Center, and Face to Face have stepped up to assist in filling this gap, with some funding provided by Ramsey County’s Continuum of Care program.
What would the effect of these new solutions be on encampments?
Fewer people would be in existing encampments during winter months. One hundred beds would be added to help shelter those who are currently living outdoors.
Housing stability updates
Ramsey County regularly shares updates on its work to address housing stability for people experiencing homelessness. Sign up for our e-newsletter.
In the media
For Ramsey County homeless, hotel rooms offer safe haven and hope amid the pandemic
Minnesota Public Radio, Feb. 18, 2021
After doubling capacity during COVID, Project Home seeks new home for homeless families by St. Kate’s
Pioneer Press, Jan. 18, 2021
As St. Paul homeless camps cleared, tough questions emerge
Pioneer Press, Jan. 10, 2021
As temps go down, St. Paul and Ramsey County are increasing options for the homeless
MinnPost, Dec. 22, 2020
Ramsey County to have two town hall meetings on leasing a space for the homeless in the Highland Park neighborhood
Pioneer Press, Dec. 15, 2020
Ramsey County considers family homeless shelter in Highland Park
Star Tribune, Dec. 15, 2020
Virtual town hall meetings announced regarding potential family shelter at the Provincial House
Media advisory, Dec. 14, 2020
Ramsey County says it will have beds for all unsheltered there this winter
KSTP, Dec. 1, 2020
Ramsey County looking at opening temporary winter shelter at Luther Seminary dorm
Star Tribune, Nov. 17, 2020
200 take part in virtual forum on plans to use vacant Luther Seminary dorm for homeless
Pioneer Press, Nov. 17, 2020
Ramsey County to hold virtual town hall on temporary homeless shelter at Luther Seminary
Pioneer Press, Nov. 10, 2020
Ramsey County to host virtual town hall regarding potential temporary shelter at Luther Seminary
Media advisory, Nov. 10, 2020
Keith Lattimore named first Director of Housing Stability Department
Press release, Nov. 10, 2020
St. Paul, Ramsey County want to add 100 beds to confront surge of homeless sleeping outdoors
Star Tribune, Sept. 9, 2020
With 380 homeless sleeping outdoors in St. Paul, officials race to find them shelter before cold sets in
Pioneer Press, Sept. 4, 2020
St. Paul, Maplewood struggle to manage homelessness amid pandemic
Star Tribune, July 17, 2020
Metro counties have spent roughly $5 million to rent hotel rooms as emergency shelters
Star Tribune, May 19, 2020
Ramsey County officials ask state to set up homeless shelter
Star Tribune, May 15, 2020
Hennepin, Ramsey counties approve funding to establish quarantine sites for vulnerable residents
MinnPost, March 18, 2020
Ramsey County, Catholic Charities target top shelter-users for permanent housing
Star Tribune, April 8, 2019
Ramsey County, city of St. Paul to reopen Winter Safe Space emergency shelter downtown
Pioneer Press, October 17, 2018
Emergency winter shelter opens in St. Paul as number of homeless people climbs
Star Tribune, November 19, 2017