Local Officials Still Trying to Solve Homelessness

July 10, 2019 10:56 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Homelessness has been a priority for the City of Rochester and Olmsted County since freezing temperatures this last winter closed public buildings and transportation.

On Wednesday, local leaders met with Tim Marx, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, to talk about the challenges facing the community.


“I think we’re all a little restive on – how will we be ready in time? Will we have the funding, will we have the operator, will we have the facility? There’s a lot on the table,” said Sheila Kiscaden, Olmsted County Board commissioner.

And there’s a limited amount of time, as the idea is to get some sort of temporary solution to people experiencing homelessness before winter arrives.

“You know it’s getting close, and we still have renovations even if we do find a place, to bring everything up to speed. I’m nervous,” said Rochester Mayor Kim Norton.

For now, there’s still no answer.

The city and county continue to look at the Silver Lake Fire Station as a potential shelter, but no decisions have been made, and they’re still open to other locations.

“The challenge is doing it now with the level of speed and scale and intensity, particularly with winter not too far off,” Marx said.

The city and county have hired a consultant who starts in August, and will help problem-solve the temporary and long-term solutions.

“Rochester is not in crisis mode. It’s got a problem,” said Marx, who’s originally from Rochester and has worked in the field of homelessness for decades, adding the problem in the Med City is still manageable.

“The numbers are relatively low. You can pretty much almost know and get to know the people with particular kind of outreach,” Marx said.

But with time running out, he said it’s important to come up with solution soon.

“You can’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. You’ve got to get going so that people aren’t in danger in this cold weather,” Marx said.


Alice Keefe

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