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Warming shelter ready for 3 more years of operation

The Brainerd City Council approved an interim use permit for the shelter, extending through June 30, 2025.

Warming Shelter exterior.
Signs on the warming shelter entry door Friday, April 22, 2022, announce the shelter will close its doors for the season April 29. Shelter organizers plan to open up in October for year two, or earlier if funds can be secured.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Brainerd’s warming shelter has the go-ahead to operate for another three years.

City Council members voted 5-2 Monday, Aug. 1, to approve an interim use permit for the South Seventh Street shelter to operate through June 30, 2025.

The shelter opened in early December last year, providing a roof, bed and even some food to adults in need each night through the end of April.

Run by the nonprofit Bridges of Hope, the shelter included 20 beds for those 18 and older and was open each night from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Seventy-eight people used the shelter during the first season it was open, with an average of about six guests a night.

After deeming the first season a success with very few incidents, shelter organizers applied for another interim use permit from the city, this time to operate the shelter for three years. The original permit issued last year only lasted through the first year of operation.

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Bridges of Hope Executive Director Jana Shogren told the Planning Commission last month the longer length of time on the interim use permit is to demonstrate a long-term commitment to the project, which will hopefully help secure more funding.

More on the warming shelter
The shelter is open every day from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and has beds available for 20 adults.
Organizers reflect on the shelters first year, which saw 75 different people stay.
The Brainerd Planning Commission recommended approval of an interim use permit that would expire June 30, 2025.
“Our community is facing a housing and homelessness crisis, and we have been for a long time,” Brainerd resident Emma Crust said.

But council members Gabe Johnson and Mike O’Day said Monday they were not on board with an interim use permit that lasts for that length of time and would rather see the permit renewed each year.

“I think we had a great thing last year. I think everything worked out pretty well, and I don’t know if we want to change anything with that,” O’Day said, noting he would have voted yes on a one-year permit, as the council did last year.

Council member Tad Erickson, who serves as the liaison to the Planning Commission, which recommended approval of the permit, reiterated Shogren’s comments from last month about moving forward with the confidence in the shelter and hoping to secure more donations with the long-term commitment. He also noted the caveat in the permit that would allow the police chief to recommend suspension or revocation of the permit if the facility is determined to have been used in a disorderly manner.

O’Day and Johnson voted against the permit, while Erickson and the rest of the council voted in favor of it.

In the permit

The interim use permit allows the shelter to be opened for up to 16 continuous hours, though shelter organizers say it will not exceed 14 hours of operation. Shelter occupancy shall not exceed 30 beds or a total occupancy of the facility as set by the fire marshall, and it must be staffed during all hours of operation.

Shelter organizers are obligated to provide 24-hour contact information to the city, police department and Crow Wing County Community Services.

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Except for bicycle racks, outdoor storage of equipment, furniture or other personal items of guests is not allowed at the shelter.

The shelter is located at 1926 S. Seventh St.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

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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