Salvation Army adds weekend day shelter hours

·3 min read

Oct. 19—MANKATO — The Salvation Army is expanding its day shelter hours to include weekends beginning the week of Nov. 1.

The daytime shelter for people and families experiencing homelessness has been open on weekdays throughout the summer and fall.

Adding weekend hours means they'll soon have shelter space seven days a week until March 31.

The nonprofit switched from an overnight men's shelter to a day shelter in fall 2020. With Connections Shelter providing overnight shelter space within First Presbyterian Church, the change to a day set-up created nearly round-the-clock shelter space for people in need of housing in Mankato.

Grant funds from the city of Mankato helped the Salvation Army keep the daytime resource open over the summer. Financial support from community members will help keep it open all week, said Leslie Johnson, the Mankato Salvation Army's business administrator.

She encouraged people to mail in monetary donations to 700 S. Riverfront Drive. Writing "day shelter" on a memo line will make clear the money should go toward that program.

Any other donations for people in need, from soap to blankets to clothing, must be brought to the nonprofit's Family Store at 201 Star St. The nonprofit can't accept donated items at its Riverfront Drive location.

State and federal eviction moratoriums, prompted by COVID-19, kept many individuals and families out of homelessness during the pandemic. One of the last renter protections in Minnesota sunsetted on Oct. 12, allowing landlords to end leases for any legal reason again with few exceptions.

It may lead to more people experiencing homelessness in the coming months.

Between the six-month period from October 2020 to April 2021, the Minnesota 211 Counts tracker found Blue Earth County had 21 requests for shelter space. The six-month period leading up to Monday had an uptick in shelter requests, rising to 27, according to the tracker.

Johnson said funding programs designed to prevent evictions will hopefully keep more families out of homelessness now that the moratorium is largely over.

The Salvation Army hasn't yet seen an uptick in people needing its lunch program, which opened back up in its dining room back in July. There has been an uptick in day shelter registration since Connections' overnight shelter opened for the season in early October, Johnson said.

Guests at Connections can head over to the day shelter for showers, laundry, Wi-Fi and computer access. The day shelter also has beds for people who work overnight shifts.

Along with financial support, staffing is another need for the Salvation Army as it nears the winter season schedule. Two support staff workers are needed to work two, eight-hour shifts on weekends.

As with other organizations looking for workers, finding applicants hasn't been easy.

Johnson said students or retirees could be good fits for the jobs, especially if they have experience or plan to go into careers where they'd work with people experiencing homelessness. Empathy and compassion are key traits needed for the jobs, she added.

"It would look really good on a resume for a law enforcement, a social work or social services student," she said.

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