Resources available during the extreme cold

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(ABC 6 News) – As the temperatures outside continue to drop, Minnesotans will be cranking up the heat in their homes. But for those without a warm place to call home, they’ll most likely be utilizing the resources available to them in the Med City.

Catholic Charities Warming Center in Rochester is just one option and is open 365 days a year to anyone over the age of 18.

“We’re open 8 pm to 8 am so we’re overnight here,” Patrick Michener, Community Engagement Supervisor for Catholic Charities Housing Programs, said.

Michener said the Warming Center has been seeing an uptick in people since the summer months and it has been at capacity almost every night since Nov. 1.

The facility has the capacity to hold 42 people a night, but Michener said the need from the community is only going to increase with the cold weather coming.

“Unfortunately we have to turn those people away. I would expect that would be common in the next coming days with zero to negative degrees,” he said.

But luckily there are other local options. The Landing MN recently moved to a new location just about a block away from the Warming Center near Downtown Rochester and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We work together not only with The Landing but many other service providers in Rochester and so that’s very intentional to both cover 12 hours there and have that 24/7/365 coverage,” Michener said.

The Dorothy Day House is another place in Rochester that provides temporary shelter to those experiencing homelessness for up to 14 days and nights.

Minnesotans who have a home but need help keeping it heated can apply for the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Energy Assistance and Weatherization Programs to make energy bills more affordable and to permanently lower their energy bills. You can apply here.

“The thing that we really just want to make sure of is that folks who are struggling with their energy bills get help as soon as they can if they need it,” Michael Schmitz with the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program said.

Schmitz said Minnesotans could see a 10 to 30 percent increase in their heating bills this winter.

“If you’re struggling or if you know somebody who is struggling it could be a neighbor, a relative, a friend, if they’re really struggling to pay their bills, have them apply for energy assistance today. The sooner you apply, the sooner we’re going to be able to help,” he said.

If you apply for the assistance program now, Schmitz said when the assistance will kick in depends on where you live in Minnesota because some service providers have more of a backlog than others. He said, on average, it could take somewhere between 30 and 60 days to kick in.

Rochester Public Transit (RPT) also offers its “Warm Place To Be” program when wind chill advisories are in effect. Anyone outside in dangerous conditions can tell a bus driver with RPT that they need to escape the cold and warm up at no cost.

If you want to help out those in need this winter, The Warming Center is in need of winter gear, specifically XXL and XXXL jackets so people can layer clothing underneath. Windproof hats and gloves are also needed.