MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 4, 2014) — Hennepin County and our partners are working to ensure that as many residents as possible have warm shelter as temperatures plummet to record lows this week.
YouthLink, a resource center for homeless and at-risk youth ages 16-24, will open at 8 p.m. Saturday night and remain open around the clock through the end of this extreme cold snap, through 8 a.m. Wednesday. The center, located at 41 North 12th Street, Minneapolis, is in need of volunteers Monday and Tuesday nights from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. Adults who are willing to help monitor the space can contact Mikkel Beckmen, director of the Minneapolis/Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness.
Though the county and partner organizations have adequate shelter space for single adults and families, youth remain underserved, Beckmen said.
“When the weather gets this bad, it is an emergency, and we have to make sure youth have a warm place at night,” he said.
At any given time, more than a dozen youth are without any shelter in Hennepin County.
The extra effort in frigid weather is worthwhile, said Heather Huseby YouthLink’s executive director.
“Homeless youth often are hidden,” she said, adding that by the time young people are looking for shelter, they often are desperate.
Other organizations also responded to the need for warm shelter space. Shelters for single adults, which normally close during the day, will remain open for their guests. The Harbor Light Center in downtown Minneapolis will welcome anyone to stay inside that facility during the extreme weather. Families that already are in emergency housing are entitled to 24-hour indoor shelter. Harbor Light is located at 1010 Currie Ave, Minneapolis.
The Basilica of St. Mary will be open Sunday as a warming space, but will be closed on Monday. The basilica is located at 88 North 17th Street, Minneapolis.
In addition, all Hennepin County libraries will remain open during normal hours. For a listing of library locations and hours, visit http://tinyurl.com/oqcrwcf.
Others in need of shelter can call 211 for assistance.
One remaining concern, Beckmen said, is for families that have been living out of their cars, especially in suburban areas. Moving forward, he went on, the city-county partnership would like to collaborate with suburban churches and other organizations to provide safe, warm, shelter.
Frigid temperatures need to be taken seriously, said Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage.
”When it hits the very low temperatures, along with the wind, you have a very serious issue with exposed flesh,” he said. “When it’s minus 50 wind chill, you’ll have damage in less than 5 minutes.”
To speak with someone at YouthLink, please call YouthLink Executive Director Heather Huseby,director of programming and operations, at 763-442-5487.