Overflow Shelter at First Pres Closed

Hello overflow shelter volunteers,

A quick and important update for you: The First Pres shelter site has shut down as of Saturday, March 21.

City with Dwellings is continuing their incredible diversion work in response to the pandemic. Earlier this week, Russ May — one of the leaders of City with Dwellings — communicated the goal to consolidate the men into one shelter site by Friday and to identify a quarantine site for any guests who test positive for COVID-19. Augsburg Lutheran will be the men’s shelter going forward and a quarantine site is close to being identified.

Here are a few bullet points of communication direct from City with Dwellings which summarize their efforts as they collaborate with city leaders and resource providers to coordinate the best care for the most vulnerable in our community:

  • We are working hard with all guests who are not staying with us anymore, doing significant diversion work to make sure our guests are settled somewhere safe. If they need to travel, we will help make that happen. If they need a tent or other equipment, we are helping that too. Another example of diversion: Shelter guests discharged from the hospital are no longer allowed to stay in a shelter due to high risk related to COVID-19. One of our guests was discharged from the hospital today, and we have helped them settle in a hotel while they recover.
  • Our diversion work will soon expand to help the year-round shelters so that they can reduce their numbers (which the city will press them to do immediately). This means that the other shelters can refer people to Spring St and we will work with them there.
  • For those who decide to camp, we are preparing for a new model of outreach: pairing a medically-minded person with one of our street outreach staff/volunteers to check on encampment sites and share good medical practices and when to go to the hospital. We will work to reduce the concentration of people in encampments as much as possible.
  • Lastly, we are a check-in spot for people at Spring. This can be casual, but we are making plans for it to include screenings for fever and respiratory issues. We are asking the city for handwashing stations to hook up to the hydrant there.
  • We are trying to limit volunteer roles, but if you know folks who want to help coordinate any part of this or who are medically-trained (but not likely to be called in to work at the hospitals, etc) we can possibly use them virtually or in limited on-site ways.
  • As we learn more information and plans materialize, we will communicate needs and specifics related to our work as soon as possible.

While this rapid response plan does not include First Pres as an active shelter site, there are still tangible ways we can serve the vulnerable in our community:

  • If you or someone you know is medically trained and willing to serve, please contact Russ May of City with Dwellings: russ@anthonysplot.org.
  • Consider joining First Pres in making a church-wide or individual donation to help meet diversion and other care needs in the community.

There may yet be more opportunities for us to support City w/ Dwellings in the coming weeks, so we’ll keep you posted. We will soon communicate with our congregation as a whole both the new structure and ways to support going forward. Thank you for your diligent efforts and compassionate posture during this season, especially over the last week. Let’s continue to pray for Russ, Lea, Scott, and the City with Dwellings team as they continue to lead well in these uncertain times.


Tim Norton


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