Twin Cities metro homeless shelters prepare for frigid freeze

Winter Safe Space is an emergency shelter in Ramsey County is preparing for those who may be in need once the temperatures drop.

Some folks will try to tough out this arctic blast coming our way, but community organizers, first responders and homeless outreach teams are hoping to persuade people to come off the streets and head inside.

“Messaging is critical especially for people in unstable housing situations,” said Dr. Ryan Fey, who works at Hennepin County Medical Center. “That’s one of the biggest risk factors for this type of injury - not being able to get out of the cold.”

Across the metro, organizations are preparing to add extra cots at shelters, will start to do extra enforcement on the light rail and bus lines when they stop running at 2 a.m. and provide hot meals for those in need.

“As we’ve been preparing and getting ready for the temperature to drop that we all are very intentional about making sure that people aren’t falling through the cracks and are prepared,” said Andrea Hinderaker, the executive director at the Winter Safe Space.

The Winter Safe Space is an emergency shelter in Ramsey County run by the Model Cities of St. Paul organization. Over 60 beds are available throughout the night if all other options fail. They're open year round, but are ramping up the efforts now to avoid having to open up the Union Depot and other public places for shelter like last year.

“We’re an emergency shelter,” said Hinderaker. “We are everything else is full, there are no other options—you had to come here—in the morning it’s our responsibility to connect them with outreach—let’s connect you with outreach and figure out what we’re missing.”

For now, most agencies are taking a wait and see approach to see what the need is for shelters. Tuesday when the temperatures are expected to fall with wind chills below zero, they will go out and locate people and bring them in.