AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Mankato Salvation Army is keeping its seasonal day shelter open through the summer.
The daytime shelter, which just opened this year, was originally intended to be in operate only during the winter season.
The Salvation Army is partnering with the city of Mankato to continue daytime shelter and other services to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness.
Leslie Johnson, program coordinator at the Salvation Army, said being able to continue the day shelter through the summer is a big boost in several ways.
She said that usage generally falls when the weather is nicer, “but there’s still a need to take a shower, do laundry, have a meal. And when it’s wicked hot out, it’s nice to have a place to get out of it.”
She said it also lessens the pressure on other public buildings, such as libraries or grocery stores, where the homeless often spent time in the summer.
The day shelter also allows outreach staff to stay in touch with people on a regular basis through the summer to help with their needs.
“We have contact with them every day. We’d kind of lose track of them when it closed in April and we didn’t see them until October.
“And our success with housing folks has been greater than ever because we’ve had that daytime contact with them.” She said they were able to find housing for about 60% of those who’ve been using the day shelter.
While she has long sought to keep the day shelter open in the summer, funding was the issue. The city of Mankato is using COVID-relief money to fully fund the day shelter through the summer, both for operations and staff. The one-time grant to the Salvation Army is more than $30,000.
Johnson said they averaged about 15 people per day at the day shelter over the winter, with the number falling to about eight when the weather improves.
The hours for the extended operation will be 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays beginning April 1 and running through Oct. 31. No services will be available on weekends or holidays.
Laundry and showers will be offered to registered homeless shelter guests only.
The regular Seasonal Day Shelter Program will resume Nov. 1 and run through March 31, 2022, operating seven days a week.
The day-use shelter was coordinated with Connections Shelter, which is a nighttime shelter, so that those who are homeless have somewhere to go during daytime hours.
Due to COVID, the Salvation Army is unable to accept donated goods of any kind for shelter guests, but monetary donations are being accepted for the shelter.