Emergency warming shelters opening their doors for shelter from bitter weather

In response to the dangerous weather conditions, additional sites are opening their doors as warming shelters to people in need.

“What if somebody is out there?” said Pastor Richard Zeck of Brooklyn United Methodist in Brooklyn Center. “They just need a place to come and we’re here and we got to heat the building anyway.”

For places of worship, the sanctuary is more than a room – it’s also a role. Brooklyn United Methodist joined an official list of emergency shelters a while back.

“The Red Cross came to us a couple years ago and they just sometimes need emergency shelters,” said Zeck.

The church already hosts Loaves and Fishes meals three times a week. While church officials have cancelled all activities due to the cold, they are prepared to be a warming house for anyone who needs their services. It will be open until 9 p.m. Tuesday night and open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday night and all night if necessary.

“Yeah we got it fired up, we got a few volunteers coming,” said Zeck. “We’ll make a couple pots of soup, have the coffee pot running and some bagels and bread. We’re just going to be here all day and all night if we need to be.”

At E 31st Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis, Mount Olive Lutheran is also serving as an emergency warming house. The location has offered their services in the past when dealing with extreme heat. 

“I hope people are feeling good that there’s options for them,” said Annie Scott of Mount Olive Lutheran. “We’re open. We start at 9 a.m. and we close at 3 p.m. just because we know people are moving, if they’re not sheltered, they’re going to be moving toward their shelter options.”

Governor Tim Walz visited People Serving People a family shelter in downtown Minnepaolis that hosts about 340 people each night. Before he read to kids, he told FOX 9 he is getting updates every two hours from emergency management. It’s a short-term crisis, but in the long-term, highlights a need for stable and affordable housing.

“It is the weather that focuses on this today, but this issue of insecurity in housing of homelessness is simply one that is unacceptable in Minnesota,” said Gov. Walz.

For a list of Hennepin County warming shelters, click here.