What are Emergency Services?
Of the nearly 20,000 Minnesotans who experience homelessness on any given night, more than half use emergency services to survive. As our community grapples with a housing crisis, emergency services provide a safe place to exist as well as a pathway to stable housing.
Catholic Charities emergency services include programs in both Hennepin and Ramsey Counties:
- Higher Ground Minneapolis Shelter
- Minneapolis Opportunity Center
- Hope Street for Youth
- Higher Ground St. Paul Shelter
- Saint Paul Opportunity Center
- Family Service Center
A PORT IN THE STORM
When many people think of emergency services, they picture an overnight shelter. While a warm place to sleep is necessary for survival, it’s only half of the equation. Day shelters and drop-in centers bridge the gap between night and day — a matter of life and death during Minnesota’s winter months.
The Saint Paul Opportunity Center (SPOC) “is the only day center in Ramsey County open 7 days a week, 365 days a year for people to drop in and get services,” explains Unit Supervisor Des. SPOC is a critical part of St. Paul’s safety net infrastructure — when severe weather shut the city down, SPOC staff responded by keeping their doors open for 36 hours straight so that our neighbors experiencing homelessness weren’t left out in the cold.
FEBRUARY 23, 2023: DOROTHY DAY PLACE STAYS OPEN THROUGH THE STORM
“THIS ISN’T THE END FOR THEM”
Nehemiah, a Client Advocate at SPOC, described how emergency services provide more than just meals, a shower, laundry, or even mental health and employment services. “It’s about having peace of mind,” he said, “because it’s hard to navigate through the day if you’re constantly thinking about where you’re going to lay your head at night.” Des adds, “I’ve hit rock bottom before, and I wish I knew these services were offered when I was going through that. The best part of my job now is making relationships with people and letting them know that this isn’t the end for them.”
AN URGENT NEED FOR PUBLIC INVESTMENT
Our community’s shared safety net needs help. “The need is only increasing,” says Des, “it feels like the number of people we serve has doubled since last year.” Currently, only 5% of these day services are publicly funded — leaving Catholic Charities to cover the difference. However, this year we have opportunities to fund programs that save lives and provide pathways out of homelessness — and we could use your help.
FEBRUARY 7, 2023: MINNESOTA LAWMAKERS PUSH TO PASS ACT TO HELP END HOMELESSNESS
“If you’re standing on the shore and see somebody drowning, it’s easy to yell, ‘swim!’ But what if they’ve never swum before? What if they’re neck-deep in the water and there’s an anchor around their waist that you can’t see? Maybe you won’t get in the water but throw a floatie or a life preserver — at least call for help.” — Nehemiah, Client Advocate
SO WHAT CAN COMMUNITY MEMBERS DO TO HELP?
1. Sign up for Action Alerts: Lawmakers respond when their constituents reach out about an issue—and the more people they hear from, the more likely it is that they will prioritize that issue. Our Action Alerts automatically match you with your elected officials, notify you when your voice is needed, and you can let them know you care with a few clicks!
2. Learn More about Catholic Charities Advocacy, including our 2023 Legislative Agenda.
3. Follow Catholic Charities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and opportunities to get involved this Legislative Session!
Community Engagement & Partnerships Manager