Commission approves language for warming shelter permits in Brainerd

The ordinance will now move on to the city council for final approval.

Brainerd Planning Commission members consider language for an ordinance that would allow warming shelters in the city during a special meeting Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

A draft ordinance will go before the Brainerd City Council next week with the intent of allowing homeless warming shelters in the city.

A community effort spearheaded by Bridges of Hope and Crow Wing County is looking to place a warming shelter at 1919 S Sixth St., but shelters are not currently an allowable use in Brainerd. To further the initiative, though, the Brainerd Planning Commission approved language Tuesday, Oct. 26, for a new ordinance that would allow interim use permits for shelters.

Shelters would have to meet the following stipulations under the ordinance:

  • Operation shall not exceed 16 continuous hours.

  • Facility occupancy shall not exceed 30 beds or total occupancy of the facility as set by the fire marshal, whichever is less.

  • Facility shall be staffed during all hours of operation.

  • 24-hour contact information shall be provided to the Brainerd Police Department and Crow Wing County Community Services.

  • Outdoor storage of equipment, furniture, personal items or other possessions of those using the facility is not permitted, except in the case of a rack for bicycles.

  • Facility shall meet all applicable building, safety, fire and health code requirements.

If the ordinance is approved, an applicant could apply for an interim use permit to run a shelter, granted all requirements are met. City officials would also have the authority to add other stipulations to the permit if they so choose.
Community Development Director David Chanski said staff looked at similar ordinances in Bemidji, Minneapolis and St. Paul when drafting the language.

The ordinance will now move on to the city council for final approval. Per city charter, the council will have a first reading of the proposed ordinance Monday, Nov. 1, and a second reading and public hearing Nov. 15, after which time council members could vote to adopt the ordinance if they choose.


The planning commission meeting is Nov. 17 and could consider the interim use permit for the South Sixth Street shelter at that time. Though the ordinance would not go into effect until a week after council approval, the planning commission can still consider the permit before sending it on to the city council Dec. 6 for final approval, at which time the ordinance will be applicable.

The building at 1919 South Sixth Street in Brainerd is the site for a proposed warming shelter, which is a collaborative project among Crow Wing County, Bridges of Hope and other community partners. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

About the shelter

The shelter proposed for 1919 S Sixth St. would be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily during the winter months, providing 20 cots and bedding for those who need a warm place to sleep. Trained staff members will be on hand while the shelter is open.

Many community groups and organizations donated funds to get the shelter up and running. A sleep-out fundraiser for the project is set for Nov. 1-8 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in northeast Brainerd. Those participating will sleep outside for a night or two to help raise funds for the shelter and awareness for homelessness.

For more information on the shelter, visit .

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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