It’s wonderful to see a community rally around a good cause.

When New Pathways, a nonprofit assisting homeless families, closed in Brainerd in 2019 it left a void in the Brainerd lakes area.

It meant the area’s homeless population was without local resources for short- or long-term shelter. The closest place they could go was St. Cloud.

For the past two years, several social service organizations, churches and other concerned residents have held meetings to discuss what could be done to provide for the area’s homeless population, to fill the void left behind with New Pathways’ departure.

“It just seems like we’re a big enough community, and we’re a community that tends to take care of people pretty well except, for some reason, this one situation,” Bridges of Hope Executive Director Jana Shogren said for an Oct. 20 story in the Brainerd Dispatch. “So we just think that we should have a local solution for people who are experiencing homelessness.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

That local solution has been found. A nightly warming shelter proposed for South Sixth Street in Brainerd is close to becoming a reality through the hard work and collaboration of numerous people, organizations and government entities.

The new facility is set to have 20 cots for adults and be open 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. during the winter months, with trained staff on-site during the hours of operation. The building proposed for the project is at 1919 S. Sixth St.

This is great news for our area and we applaud everyone who has helped make the warming shelter a reality, from organizations like Bridges of Hope for being a champion of the project, to local government agencies such as the Brainerd City Council and Crow Wing County for offering policy support, to the people who participated in a week-long sleep out and raised over $200,000 for the facility and program.

We’re sure we missed many people and groups who have worked to make the warming shelter a reality, but their efforts are noticed and appreciated by the Brainerd lakes area community.

The hard truth is, there are homeless people in the Brainerd area who need our help. They might not fit into the stereotype many people have when they think of a homeless person — they simply might be couch hopping or sleeping in their vehicles. It’s a hidden problem that deserves a proper solution.

The warming shelter is a great step, but we’re hoping it’s just the first step to re-establishing continued — and expanded — services and care for our homeless population. Let’s keep the momentum going. Based on what we’ve witnessed, the entire community is behind it.