Updated: March 26, 2020 08:10 PM
Created: March 26, 2020 05:01 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Growing concerns of the coronavirus are causing more changes for the homeless community. The Rochester Community Warming Center is relocating to the Mayo Civic Center Exhibition Hall, effective immediately.
The exhibit hall will have two new looks. One half will serve as the temporary day center open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The other half will be the warming center, which is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. All overnight guests need to be signed in by 10 p.m. and are not allowed to come and go throughout the night.
The relocation happened on Wednesday and by nighttime, the center was up and running. It was a quick, but necessary move.
"We needed to be able to accommodate additional guests," said Cathy Hunsaker, a manager with the Rochester Community Warming Center. Prior to the move, the warming center had other locations, but with staff being spread pretty thin, they decided to get back under one roof.
"It also provides us to have additional space to have beds for more people," Hunsaker added. "Previously we had a limit to the number of guests we could have and the potential for having to turn people away. Now, we don't have that problem."
Right now, the hall has 45 beds set up with room for more. The Mayo Civic Center also has showers, lockers, and other amenities for guests.
Even in this time of uncertainty, Olmsted County Housing Director Dave Dunn, said all different sectors of the community has stepped up to provide resources and support for the homeless community.
"What can we do to make the lives of our most vulnerable just a little bit better? And a little bit safer during these very dangerous times," Dunn said. "We want to be able to provide services to clients that have been historically difficult to serve so this new location and being co-located with the city will really allow us to do that."
The new location will also help further the goal of finding permanent housing for the homeless community. In addition to this goal, another hope is that this pandemic can provide a new prospective on what the homeless community goes through.
"We're hoping that there's been a little bit of a light shined on our guests here and the struggles that they have," Hunsaker added. "That we'll be more prepared to move forward with a collective approach to be more aware of what people need and that they don't only need these things when we are going through a pandemic. This is real life for our guests."
The Rochester Community Warming Center's 4th Street location is closed during the COVID-19 crisis.
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